Recognizing the hard work and resilience of the Keystone community
“Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.”
We’re one quarter into what may end up being the most unusual school year in our lifetime. Classes started on August 19, but no children were on campus until after Labor Day. Then, we gladly but very slowly welcomed children back to campus while appreciating the many families who chose to remain in distant learning.
In a very short time, we have come to view “normal” as children wearing masks while attending classes and walking around campus. Morning drop off rituals used to include high fives, handshakes, and hugs; now we take temperatures, inquire about symptoms, and allow children to come onto campus only if they’re wearing a brightly-colored wristband. Teachers facilitate learning with children physically in front of them and students on computers attending from home.
So after almost two months of school in this new reality, what do we know? We know that schooling in a pandemic is hard work for all involved. These conditions strain children, educators, and families in myriad ways. This situation asks us to live with uncertainty which can be very hard for those of us who like predictability and certitude. As computer engineer and venture capitalist Bill Joy once said, “Well, limbo is not a good place to be.” And yet, that’s exactly where we are for the foreseeable future.
At Keystone, we have attempted to base our decision-making process on science and data. Consequently, we have avoided making decisions too far out into the future so we can be informed by what the latest trends tell us. We know that some people find this frustrating, and we understand. Nevertheless, we want our planning process to be agile and responsive to the most current information and science.
We also know that this is an impressively resilient community. In her book, Dare To Lead, Brené Brown expands on the military saying “embrace the suck” in encouraging readers to look for the good and learn to live with adverse situations. In the same way, members of the Keystone community have faced these uncommon and unsettled times by giving others, as the saying goes, “grace and space.”
To our students, you make us proud whether you are on campus or attending virtually. You are experiencing school like no generation before you, but you continue to work hard and give your all. You engage in your classes and with your teachers with energy and effort. You have learned how to navigate Zoom, partner with classmates in person or online, and be present when you may not even be on campus. In addition, you continue to laugh and find the joy in small things; in return, we have figured out how to see your smile by looking at your eyes.
To the Keystone faculty and staff, you have shown our students that we are all in a constant state of learning and growing. Probably none of us entered the world of education with a pandemic in mind, but you have demonstrated how to respond to difficulty with a positive attitude. Teaching concurrently presents unforeseen challenges; nevertheless, you have proven yourselves to be courageous educators who will do whatever it takes to help your students fulfill their potential whether it’s in the classroom or other areas of their lives.
To our parents, you have been supportive and collegial. You have provided us with helpful information and feedback while understanding that we are in uncharted territory. You have acclimated to new procedures and routines even when they have been inconvenient. You have dealt with the never-ending stress of parenting during a pandemic and economic recession, and we appreciate how hard this has been for you. We are grateful to be partnering with you to help your children grow into the people they are destined to be.
We have also figured out other important lessons along the way. We have come to understand that as a community, we are capable of more than we ever knew. Together, we have reaffirmed that it’s better to try and possibly stumble than to stand still and not put forth the effort. Collectively, we have discovered new ways of doing things that we may not have attempted if not forced to do so.
Please don’t get me wrong. Would I prefer that COVID-19 were a thing of the past and we were all in school together? Absolutely! However, since that has not been an option, this community has reacted in the most positive way-with courage and a determination to make the best of a bad situation.
As we head into the second quarter, we will face more challenges. On the one hand, we may witness another spike in the upcoming weeks and months; we could have to go into full distance learning depending on what happens after Thanksgiving and the Winter holidays. We might have to cancel even more school activities depending on the level of transmission in the community.
On the other hand, we may be able to continue in our current mode of learning if we are vigilant and we take the necessary precautions. While much is beyond our control, we can do our best to decrease the rate of transmission at Keystone and in San Antonio.
Whatever we encounter next, I remain confident that this community will step forward with the same strength, durability, and solidarity, it has shown up to now. As Helen Keller said, “Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.”