Guest Commentary: #StrongerTogether: All hands on deck | News, Sports, Jobs
The year 2020 began for many of us like other years, when we got back on our feet after our vacation break. In February we started seeing the headlines: “Confirmed Coronavirus Cases in All Regions of China” “Coronavirus: Venice Carnival ends as Italy imposes lockdown.” and “South Korea on high alert if the coronavirus spreads.” These cases were so far away and many thought it was a temporary problem for some overseas countries. I don’t think either of us could have predicted what would happen in the days, weeks, and long months that followed.
This global pandemic and everything that comes with it has become a part of our everyday vocabulary. A year ago, our children weren’t quarantined home from school. Social distancing was a foreign word. The CDC was not part of our collective consciousness. Masks were for Halloween.
It’s been a year since schools in the United States closed. Unfortunately, many schools across the country remain closed. Other open school districts only offer part-time or “Hybrid” personal guidance. However, in Lee County, schools offer face-to-face tuition throughout the school year. This commitment was entered into at the state level and accepted locally.
Failure is not an option for teachers, students, staff, and families in the Lee County School District. Through community partnerships and an unwavering commitment to putting students first, what Lee County has achieved together is nothing short of remarkable.
But the school year is only a little more than halfway over. COVID fatigue has arrived. We’re all sick of wearing masks, social distancing, quarantines, zoom classrooms, and virtual meetings. One of my children has already been quarantined three times! The disruption this causes to their academic advancement, athletic activities, and social / emotional wellbeing is evident and increases with each new quarantine. I remind them that these safety measures are necessary to keep their classmates and teachers safe, and that we knew quarantines were a risk we took when we decided to go back to face-to-face teaching . But the effects on them are real, and it is very, very difficult.
As I help my own children during these times, I reflect on how our school and district staff are all grappling with the reality of COVID in their own households and working incredibly hard to provide safe and productive learning environments for all of our children. They experience the pressure we all feel as they try to ease the stress that our students take to school every day.
Everything has been hands-on in this district since the pandemic began, and despite unprecedented working conditions, it will remain so until the end of the school year. If you tend to do so, please find ways to identify our employees. Thank you to a teacher, administrator, bus driver, school nurse, principal, or administrator. Take the time to find and recognize the positive in our schools.
All handy decks include parents, guardians, neighbors, and friends. All practical decks mean the entire community. Due to a strong partnership with Lee Health and the Lee County Division of the Florida Department of Health, transmission rates in our schools are minimal. We ask for your patience and further support as we finish this school year on a strong note. Together, we have the opportunity to turn the ominous and often tragic COVID headlines into positive historical perspectives on how Lee County battled this pandemic and emerged stronger and more unified. After all, we are #StrongerTogether.
– School board member Chris N. Patricca represents District 3