Dear Members of the Maynard School Community.
I hope this message finds you well! I am guessing some of the novelty of our “new normal” has worn off for both you and your children and you are likely seeing an increase in stressful moments. What we are doing right now is hard. It’s hard to be a parent, where you are worried about your child’s continued development of essential skills, and what this school closure will mean for their academic careers moving forward. It’s hard as an adult, where you have to manage the stress of your employment situation, combined with the stress of analyzing every action you take to ensure you are protecting the health and safety of you, your children and your loved ones. (There is a great article about moral fatigue from the Rolling Stone).
It’s also stressful for your kids. All of our students are currently grieving the loss of their normal. They are, grieving the little things like the loss of social interactions with classmates and adults who are not their parents, as well as big things, like championship games, play productions, and other major life events that for now are uncertain. New York Times Columnist Lori Gottlieb provides some suggestions on how to work through the grieving process for yourself and with your children in her article Grieving the Losses of the Corona Virus. Dealing with your adult stressors, combined with managing your children’s stress can be overwhelming. Reaching out to your support networks is important.
My network includes my sister who, as a sailboat captain, has a unique and beautiful perspective on where we are. She said “In sailing a red sky in the morning is a beautiful and ominous sign of bad weather to come. In all storms you do what you can ahead of time, forego your intended route for the least violent one and deal with what comes up during it. You take it one minute, one hour and one day at a time and it passes. At some point the sun breaks through again.” Together, we will get through this.
In an effort to support you and your students, your Maynard Public School team has been working on a revised remote learning plan. The Administrative Team and Teachers Association has worked closely and collaboratively over the last two weeks to address the Revised Learning Expectations released by the state. As indicated in the guidance released from the state, Maynard Public Schools will continue to prioritize first and foremost on the “holistic needs of the educational community” doing our part to ensure that our students, families and staff are healthy and well during this time of crisis. Additionally, we will use our remote learning model to ensure that we are supporting our students’ development of essential concepts and skills through both digital and nondigital activities.
As the commissioner stated, our most vulnerable students are being heavily impacted by this closure. To that end, the remote learning plan includes provisions to support individual students accessing the remote learning activities and supporting their overall health and wellbeing. The district is also working to ensure students and families have the technology they need to support elements of the remote learning activities. More specifics about the Remote Learning Plan will be sent to families tomorrow night after the School Committee has had an opportunity to review the plan.
As has been said many times in many different situations over the last two weeks, we are in an unprecedented moment, and how we will respond educationally will need to be just as unprecedented. Some have even begun to use the phrase “crisis schooling”, which is not out of place. In some ways, however, I believe we need to view this as an opportunity. We have been watching a lot of Liberty’s Kids in my house, and I was reminded of Ben Franklin’s quotation, “Out of adversity comes opportunity.” I am sure many of you are wondering how this closure will impact your child’s future. If they are not in school, will they really learn what they need to? While I cannot predict the future, I can assure you that we are being provided with an educational opportunity for our children right now that no other generation of students has had. We are at a time where we cannot help but do the things researchers and educational activists (including those in the classroom) have been trying to get districts and teachers to do for decades. We have to personalize instruction by allowing more student choice and voice. We have to slow down and focus on what is essential. We have to ensure that we maintain a positive relationship between our students and our faculty and staff. We are in a moment where we can reimagine what school could be and work to develop strategies we can use to better support our students when they return to our buildings and classrooms.
Having spoken with dozens of our staff members over the course of the last two weeks, I can assure you that your entire Maynard Public School Team is committed to you and your children, both during and after this crisis. As Mr. Franklin urged us to do, we need to find the opportunity in this adversity. As a final message, I leave you with What if instead of being behind, these kids are ahead?