Lessons from the Pandemic
As I am writing this blog, Warren County’s fourteen-day positivity rate is 6.6%, and Indianola CSD has been able to be fairly successful with face-to-face learning for over 85% of our students in a hybrid plan with mitigation efforts. Still the impact of the COVID-19 virus is being felt in many different ways, and it still exists as a major challenge. It may be cliché to note that there are opportunities in the midst of any challenge, but I do see people learning and leading throughout these tough circumstances. I have also seen some truths illustrated very clearly. Here are just a few:
- We are better together.
- We can respect others even when we don’t agree.
- We can control our reaction even when we can’t control our circumstances.
Anyone who has been part of a team growing up has probably heard, “TEAM = Together Each Achieves More.” That is true of any team in the sports arena, fine arts, workplace, church, or home. We are better together. This COVID-19 challenge has highlighted how good things can be when school and home are working together. There has had to be a lot of flexibility shown by many people. On the district side, our teachers have done incredible work, supported by our IT Department and others. Our support staff—whether custodial, buildings and grounds, child care, food service, instructional, or transportation—have done a great job of helping to keep our students and staff served and safe. Leadership teams and the school board have spent countless hours gathering information and input, attending webinars, and putting together plans that give the best opportunities possible for a quality learning experience while acknowledging people’s situations differ. Our students, parents, and community have made the return to school successful and have been great about showing appreciation for the efforts of staff. Through all my years of teaching, coaching, and administrating, I have never been surer that we are better together than I am today.
We can also respect others even when we don’t agree. Again, in terms of pandemic planning, I have appreciated that people have been respectful even as we make those “50-50” decisions on topics upon which people passionately hold differing views. I am very proud of the civility that has been shown in an era when incivility often seems to reign. Somewhere along the line, possibly with the advent of social media, the line between disagreeing with an idea and attacking a person seems to have become blurred. It is totally possible to adamantly disagree with someone’s stance on an issue without personally attacking them. We might even learn something if we really stop to listen. It is true that sometimes the best place people can get to is “agree to disagree,” but that can be done with respect and with people’s dignity intact. Throughout this pandemic I have read a number of emails that disagreed with a decision or stance, but almost universally, the writer acknowledged this is a tough situation and thanked people for their hard work. That’s respect.
As educators, we spend a lot of time trying to teach students to react well to adversity and control what they can control. Those lessons never go out of style, and they aren’t just for kids. The whole idea of mitigation efforts is to control what we can control, yet to a certain extent this virus is going to do what viruses do: spread, cause disease, and even cause death. I tend to be an “all things in moderation” person for the most part, and I don’t live my life with a spirit of fear. However, handwashing, avoiding people who might be sick, being attuned to one’s own health, and taking good care of oneself are not new ideas. None of us invited COVID-19 into our lives, but we can do some things to limit the chance we will contract it.
I want to thank the community, our parents and students, and the many people throughout our organization for doing great things during a difficult season and for reinforcing for me that we are better together, we can respect others even when we don’t agree, and we can control our reaction even when we can’t control our circumstances!