The call came last night. The sound of a recorded voice that let me know a lengthy message would be played as I held the landline phone receiver to my ear, standing next to the phone on my mom’s busy desk in her typically busier kitchen.
We’d been eating dinner, salmon Mom had lovingly cooked for us, when Ring! Ring! the landline phone ringer indicated someone wanted to communicate. I popped up to get it–my parents were settled into their wooden chairs at the table and stiff hips, backs, and knees can make it harder for them to bounce up and answer the phone before the ringing stops. “I’ll get it, if that’s ok?” I asked, as that is our way. Consent matters. No one disagreed. I swooped over and got the phone before the answering machine kicked on.
It was a lengthy recorded message from the school district. All of my nephews in the k-12 system attend elementary, middle, and high school at our school district on the Reservation, the same place I did. This message was about what would happen to them. This message was so parents, families, and employees could plan.
The recording told me the first day of school is September 8th. And that all students would be learning remotely from home, a decision made in consultation with the County Health Department.
There. I exhaled, glad for the information and grateful to leaders who made and communicated a decision.
The decision to have remote education, while creating a lot of uncertainty and change, at the heart of it I respect the decision, which honors perhaps the most important teaching: students are precious. Students and their families’ well-being–their health–are what matter most. Wearing masks, washing our hands, maintaining social distancing, and working and learning remotely–these are all ways we can collectively care for ourselves and each other. In doing so we honor the health of precious loved ones: ours, and more than ours.
Even though Back-to-School will look and be different for so many of us this year, I hope there is one lesson we can all hold onto in the busyness, uncertainty, and confusion: Students Are Precious.