By Jean Doran Matua, Editor
Over the past weeks and months, even the most casual observer would notice that “We the People” are pulling apart over several dividing lines. Whatever your stand on any side of any of these issues – and even if you’re doing your best to straddle them all so as to not take sides – now is the time to pull together on one issue we must all agree on: supporting our educators, students, school staff, parents and families.
However the coming school year launches and plays through day by day, we are all in uncharted territory. And all of the extra challenges and hurdles are not of our own making.
We must show a unified front for our school staff: teachers, paras, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, nurses, social workers, administrators, and school boards. We should do all we can to make sure they know they are supported by the community as they try to do their very best with a nearly impossible situation. Decisions are being made based on guidance from professionals in the Department of Education and Department of Health as well as from staff, parents, unions, and the community. Being divided in our support (or lack thereof) at this particular time could be likened to slapping healthcare workers as they go to work each day to fight COVID-19. Please be supportive.
Even more important, however, is presenting the challenges ahead in a positive light for our students. Kids of all ages easily pick up on adult anxiety and frustrations. We must be extra-
supportive of our students and their young minds and tender psyches, to make this school year a positive and growing experience rather than something to dread or fight. To do otherwise would be like slapping COVID patients as they struggle to recover. No matter what, we absolutely must support our students.
When times are tough, we all jump in to support local businesses; it’s what we do. When a local farmer’s barn burns down, or they suffer some other great loss, neighbors pitch in to help. It’s in our nature. It may be hidden these days behind some of the nastiness being thrown around out there in the world, but it’s there and it’s indomitable.
Now is the perfect time to bring out our very best neighborliness and support our schools and students, daycares and parents, in every way we can. For starters, at least in this one area of life, we can all refrain from second-guessing the difficult decisions being made by professionals for our schools. And we can resist the urge to bash individuals or the system on social media. The same way we unconditionally support healthcare workers and those fighting to survive COVID-19, we must support our students and teachers and all staff who work with them. This is equally important and necessary.
If you are inclined to pray, now is the time to start daily and nightly prayers of protection for all involved with and in our schools. Send good vibes, think good thoughts, say a quick prayer, alone or in groups – whichever is your preference – but please do it daily and often.