Starting the School Year - 8/27/20

COVID-19 continues to dominate the daily news and our daily lives. It dominates almost every aspect of our lives in one way or another. Around us, we’re seeing school systems starting to reopen. Some are doing it remotely; others are letting students return for in-person instruction. We also have seen sports kick back in – softball has entered its competition season, while football players have been practicing all summer. The same goes for track, band, and other student activities of fall that we’re used to seeing. 

Yet, here in Bibb County we determined we would not have our first day of school with students until after Labor Day, we delayed the start of fall sports, and we’re continuing to monitor COVID-19 in the Macon-Bibb area. How are we going to move back to a normal way of life? I remain convinced that it’s going to happen with us. We’re not going to find a solution in government, we’re not going to find a solution at the federal level, and we may not even find it at the state level. I think it’s going to be found with us as we decide to practice social distancing, as we decide to wear masks or face coverings, and as we decide to frequently wash our hands. With that, we’ll be able to get back to a sense of normalcy. 

In the meantime, I must commend our teachers. As I have been visiting schools, I have watched teachers in groups learn our new Learning Management System called Canvas. They have dived into this new, strange world of technology and they have determined they are going to be the very best they can be. I have been impressed with their level of frustration that it’s taking them a while to learn the new software platform and their determination to make it so easy for their students that they are putting extra pressure on themselves to learn it quickly. Many teachers have said, “I wish we’d had this back in May.” We didn’t have it back in May; we have it now, and I have seen that teachers are going all out to make sure we implement Canvas well. 

The same thing is true for the way we’re implementing a new communication tool called Remind. Remind is how we’re going to ensure that across this district that we have better communications now than we had last spring. This is important as we head into an all-virtual setting for teaching our students in September. I continue to be impressed with the way everyone is accepting this new software platform as well. And, as you can see by my text through Remind this week, we’re all learning the platform.
The ones who are going to be impacted the most are our students. Students want to be back in school. Students want to be able to socialize with their peers, and truthfully, that’s one of the main purposes of public education – to help students learn how they can be productive citizens. Productive citizens come about because we learn to cooperate, to collaborate and to just make the world a better place by interacting with others. That’s one thing that public schools have over homeschool, private schools and even over many charter schools. At a public school, you are in a class with people from your community – no selection, just who they are – and we learn to get along. COVID-19 has taught us that if there is anything that we have to do, it’s to learn to work together – by wearing a face mask, not because I think it’s most important, but because we believe it’s the best way for us to move forward.

To the students who are frustrated about athletics, please know we’re going to phase sports back in. For those who are frustrated about band, please recognize we did have to delay because we’re constantly learning more about COVID-19, and we’re going to get you back into action as well. At the same time, I need for all of us to recognize that on the weekends and in the evenings, we still have to practice wearing a face mask, social distancing, and frequently washing our hands – because what we do in those hours when we are unsupervised impacts what we can do when we come back together. The quicker we’re able to get this COVID-19 situation under control, the sooner we’ll be able to have all our students back at school.

I also want to thank the Bibb County community for helping us with our employees. Many teachers have children, and as teachers are trying to teach it’s hard for them to also be a parent. Businesses recognize that, and so do we. I want to thank our community for working with us to provide alternative childcare for our teachers’ and other employees’ children as we work through this virtual learning experience. Virtual learning is not the best or the most desired, but it is what we have and we’re going to make it work to the very best of our ability. I’ve been impressed with the partnerships and support that have been formed by our community.

So, let’s make this COVID-19 situation what it was not intended to be: It was not intended to be something that would make us stronger, but we can let it make us stronger by accepting the challenge, working together, collaborating and seeing our way through this unprecedented time.

-VIP Continues

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