We did it! Perhaps you joined me this past week in drawing a long sigh of relief. Beginning a new school year in the midst of a pandemic has proven to be a very stressful endeavor for district staff, as well as for our students and families.
This summer was jam-packed with planning, adapting, shifting and regrouping as we did our very best to design a new way to teach and learn — all while following ever changing health and safety requirements. There was an abundance of uncertainty and too many last minute changes to count. We’ve gotten to meet new friends in the state and county health department, and we’ve learned new medical terms and metrics that educators never had to consider before. It’s been quite the summer.
So yes, I admit, I was probably holding my breath these past few weeks as we prepared for something we have never done before. And like many of you, I can honestly say I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
But all that stress and anxiety just washed away the moment I was able to watch our kids and teachers reconnect. There is magic in the first day of school, and even behind masks, that special magic shines through. As kids came back for their first day of hybrid learning, our staff members were at the door greeting them each by name.
Long-distance hugs and air high fives were flying through the air and eyes were smiling bright and big. That same energy was even transmitted electronically as our online learners connected virtually with teachers and classmates. Our students are ready to get back to learning, and our teachers and staff are just as ready to teach them. The creation of something brand-new rarely comes quickly or without missteps, and our venture into the current school year is no different.
I know there have been hiccups along the way. We’ve not been able to provide answers to every question asked of us and families have had to wait anxiously to receive schedules and information for the new year.
Throughout this process, the amount of grace, understanding and support that our community has exhibited has been nothing short of amazing.
To say that I appreciate your collective attitude as we have constructed a smart restart to school would be an understatement. Indeed, I don’t know how we would have done it without you. On behalf of the entire Stillwater Area Public Schools’ staff, I thank you for your partnership and support.
To be clear, there will still be moments when we will all have to hold our breath and hope for the best. If anything is certain in this crazy time, it’s that anything and everything can change!
We will do our best to minimize the disruption and always put the needs of our kids first, and we ask for your continued grace and patience. Do not hesitate to reach out to us with questions, ideas and feedback. We are all in this together!
Malinda Lansfeldt is the interim superintendent of Stillwater Area Public Schools