School Decisions in the Age of COVID: An Administrator’s Perspective

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For eight months now, I have sat on Zoom calls, in socially-distanced, masked meetings, and been in constant conversation all around the same topic…what do we do now and what do we do next?

I am a mother of twins in second grade (one who is high risk), I am a wife to a fine dining event executive chef, and I am an administrator at a well-known local school district. The pandemic has hit me from every direction.

School supplies with mask

School Is a Hot Topic

School has, rightfully so, been a hot topic during the pandemic. Shutdown, virtual learning, hybrid learning, face-to-face learning, asynchronous, synchronous, schools open and then they close; all of these variations and unknowns are enough to make a parent’s head spin off their necks.

I know it’s hard, the constant unknowing and change, let alone the fear and uncertainty associated with whether or not your child is safe in school and if you’re making the right decision to send them or keep them home. As a parent, I have felt frustration, anger, concern, sadness, grief, and all of the same feelings each and every parent is processing. But I want you to know, we feel them as administrators, too.

At 11:00 pm on March 12 the work I have done for the past 14 years was spun on its axis and has continued to spin while changing directions at any given moment. School administrators are struggling, too. We are suffering right along with you.

Perspective is Everything

I’m not here to defend schools or administrators, but I am here to offer perspective and understanding.

What is right and what is best? That’s the leading question as I sit in these meetings where we are trying to create answers and solutions with no guidance or previous experience. We have sprinted into a great unknown with no light to lead us out. Instead of easier, the questions are getting harder to answer.

Kids needs to be in school. Period. I believe most of us agree on that. But is it safe? We don’t know. Young learners, those in the early reading stages especially, are struggling. Teaching a child to read via Zoom is not as effective as in the classroom. High schoolers are at a pivotal point in their lives where a single grade can make or break their hopes for admission into their dream college. And what about our students who need extra help? Those who learn differently or have special needs? Now let’s throw in the mental health concerns and needs.

Next, let’s flip to teachers and staff, is it safe for them to be in school? Are we potentially putting some of our most prized hopes for a better future at risk? We don’t know.

One thing is certain, no matter what the decisions are, or the choices that are made, it is impossible to make everyone happy. Just like the most contentious election ever that we just went through, people are very split on how they feel schools should be running. Full face to face? Full virtual? Hybrid? Stick a group of parents in a room and they’ll all have a different opinion.

It’s All Hard

There is no guiding government body. There is no guiding science expert. There is nothing. School administrators are going in blind trying to do the best they can for all of the people under their care.

Every time a decision or change is made it sends a trickle down effect. Transportation, scheduling, food and nutrition services, intervention, IEPs and special education, technology, maintenance, and so on. Many people have to make many adjustments, solve unknown problems, and invent creative solutions—all while keeping everyone safe. It’s exhausting. I have probably received more parent emails and phone calls in this school year alone than I have in my entire career combined.

I love my career. I love what I do. I have actually never loved it more, even though it’s harder than it’s ever been. But while I may get frustrated, and you may get frustrated with the decisions your district is making, just keep in mind your administrators are doing the best they can with what little they have in an unprecedented time.

Administrators are running on empty. They have worked nonstop since March 13. Please remember grace.

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