Education in the best of times is a difficult proposition.
Between high-stakes testing, state-mandated teacher and administrator assessments, insufficient state aid and outdated and rapidly changing technology have all stretched and stressed educators, parents and children.
Adding the COVID-19 pandemic to the mix would seem to make in-person education all but impossible.
And yet, improbable as it may be, teachers, students, principals, parents are making in-person education work. There is no substitute for in-person education. You need look no further than the remote instruction of the spring (and early fall in several local districts).
Despite everyone’s best efforts, remote instruction by nature is impersonal. It is difficult to capture the nuances of lessons or receive immediate feedback which are staples of quality instruction.
Behind masks, on carts, six-feet apart (or further), teaching students in the classroom and via online platforms at the same time, teachers are practically doing back-flips to make hybrid instruction successful. Students are checking in — while many at least — to keep up with their lessons from their living rooms, kitchens, bedrooms or anywhere they can log-on to WiFi.
The return to classrooms has not been perfect. Teachers are clearly stretched to their limits. Hybrid education while bridging a very important gap is unsustainable in the long run as currently managed.
Many area districts have been beset by positive tests of faculty, staff or students. Their plans, which were state-required prior to reopening, have served them well and have kept schools operating with only minor disruptions. Communication between districts and parents has perhaps never been greater nor more necessary.
A majority of area school districts have managed to get many interscholastic fall sports teams on the field, a welcome sense of normalcy for students, fans and communities. We can not only appreciate the skill and dedication of these athletes and coaches — but have seen tight and lasting bonds formed in and among teammates through an adversity few of them could have ever imagined.
There are many hard-learned lessons from this pandemic, but we would be remiss if in the midst of it we didn’t recognize educators.
We have known, for decades, the impact of exceptional educators on their students. They not only teach but inspire, and, in these difficult and uncertain times, uplift us all.