Let’s Talk ESP Blog: Let’s Keep It In Focus?
By Gail Kablau
Last year, as the school year opened, I spoke to you about going back to school COVID-style. I had hoped not to be having that conversation again this year. But here we are, with COVID on the rise.
Sadly, the biggest challenge is the least of what we should be worrying about – to mask or not to mask. Why is this even a question? And more importantly, why is it the focal point? The media is perpetuating it in all mediums, and those who believe wearing a mask has anything to do with their personal freedom are the loudest voices in the room. Some school district’s are still making decisions based on politics instead of science, instead of doing what is right for all staff and students in their schools. Most disturbing of all to me is that I have never seen so many parents fighting so hard to put their own children in harm’s way by fighting mask mandates.
And what about the other narrative out there that last year was a “lost year”? I respectfully and wholeheartedly disagree. Schools were still “open” regardless of which mode of instruction you were in. Teachers were still teaching. Students were still learning. Some school districts were still running activity and sports programs. It may not have looked the same, but it was not a “lost year”. I still did my work, and I know all of you did, too. So, let’s stop all of the negative talk, and focus on what we were able to accomplish and build off of that.
Let’s tune out the noise for a minute, shall we? Let’s talk about what the real focus should be in our schools. We have a job to do. It’s the same job we’ve been doing – educating students. We have always had safety and security in mind. COVID just means we have to add a few extra safety measures – wearing a mask, washing hands more often, and distancing as much as possible. And maybe, we spend more time outside on a nice day, whether it’s for an extra recess, instructional time, or just to take a break and stop looking at a computer screen.
The narrative should be about educating students. Let’s talk about how we are going to transition back into our schools, not only safely, but with the social and emotional support needed for staff and students without all of the distractions. Let’s talk about the instructional support needed. Let’s talk about the relationships we are building. Let’s talk about how we can all best support each other, our students, and public education where we live.
I refuse through this school year with a “Woe is Me” attitude, because COVID is still here. School is back in session. Let’s focus on doing what we do best – supporting our students. Who’s with me? Let’s Talk!
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Gail Kablau is the WEAC Education Support Professional (ESP)-at-Large Board Representative. Contact her at: email@example.com.