OUR VIEW: Many wondered if this school year would even happen. It did, and it’s almost over.
We encourage you to close your eyes for a minute and think back to May 2020, only one year ago. The world was full of unknowns, social distancing was still a relatively new term and masks had only recently become a part of our lives.
Our children had been out of school for two months at that point and weren’t returning to the classroom. At that time, there were more questions than answers about a return to the classroom in the fall.
We think our school system leaders would even say that they weren’t sure what the 2020-2021 school year would look like at that point.
But school did start back, and somehow, someway the school year will end next week. Students were required to wear masks and social distance, but it was mostly a normal school year. There were a couple of times where schools had to be closed for a day or two for cleaning, or the entire school system went virtual for a day, but those adjustments were expected.
While school systems across the country were debating the idea of returning to the traditional classroom, Superintendent Brian Shumate and his team worked to come up with a plan — one that would keep students safe and allow learning to restart on campus.
Given all of the unknowns at that time, it would’ve been easy to only offer virtual schooling. Although there were some issues at the beginning of the school year (who would’ve ever guessed that?), TCSS was mostly ready to go all virtual, if needed.
Instead, understanding the complexity of the situation, TCSS offered students both a virtual option and traditional option. Then, as students wanted to swap back and forth, they accommodated those requests within reason.
People moaned and groaned about students having to wear masks, but it’s clear that the model worked and kept students healthy. Sure, there were spikes in cases, but they followed the roller coaster toll COVID-19 was taking on our community. In reviewing the numbers, the school system didn’t have a random spike that wasn’t related to community spread.
Teachers adjusted. Some went from teaching virtual to being in a classroom full of students as students changed their mind and saw that the traditional classroom was relatively safe.
And just to be clear, when we wrote “somehow, someway” the school system made it through the school year, we should’ve been more specific — teachers, sanitation staff, transportation and the list goes on and on and on — are the reason this school year happened. Countless hours of doing their jobs through troubling times. Adjusting their schedules. Teachers learned new ways to get through to our children, some behind a computer screen.
And now some of our teachers are getting ready to lead summer schooling to help students catch up that fell behind. Imagine that.
A year ago, we’re not sure anyone could’ve said for certain whether or not we’d make it through the entire school year in a traditional format. Even Shumate didn’t know.
But TCSS adjusted, made a plan and stuck to it as the school year played out. As the situation progressed, changes were made.
And now we’re just a few days from the end of school, and we think it’s safe to say the plan worked.
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