Grace in Times of COVID

Give Grace.

Give Grace to Those Around You.

Give Yourself Grace.

“In Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez shows that public appearances do not always reflect private reality.”
Litcharts Thematic Analysis.

I have been standing on the sidelines on the “Back to School” debate. There is no perfect solution. Virtual, Remote, Face to Face (F2F), Oh, my! There are too many feelings, too many opinions, too many unknowns. I am passionate about the topic, but I am giving my local educational leaders the grace to do their jobs. They are agonizing over every detail. They are not sleeping. They have worked nonstop with no clear idea where they were headed. Please show them grace.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

To paraphrase a common saying: You never know what someone else is going through, so my prayer for us all is that we give each other grace. We are truly living in unprecedented times. We are in the middle of a global pandemic that has lasted the better (worse?) part of 2020. For most people, this is one of the most difficult times we have ever experienced. So many of us have lost a friend*, a family-member, a colleague. Over 160,000 people have lost their lives to the Coronavirus and over 5 million people have tested positive, according to the CDC as of August 10, 2020. Every teacher I know (and I know a lot!) are struggling with their own fears about remote learning and going back into buildings that are impossible to keep clean. They are conflicted by their own desire to be back in their classrooms with the children they love and keeping themselves and their own loved ones safe. I beg of you to please support your children’s teachers and administrators. I beg of you to avoid criticism. Remember the “Teachers are Heros” feeling we all had last spring? Honor the teachers in your life in some way. Send them a note, a Starbucks card, flowers, a case of wine … but most of all, let them know that you empathize with this impossible situation. Most teachers are empaths, they feel everything very deeply. They are feeling attacked in the “comments” right now – so it is incredibly important FOR OUR CHILDREN that teachers feel supported. Minimally, send your teacher friends a DM/text to tell them you are there for them and send your child’s teacher an email the first week of school and let them know that you are an ally.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

We each have our own perspective due to multiple factors: health, economic, socio-political, educational, and even our mental state will influence our decisions. As a former high school teacher, as the mother of an incoming high school senior, and as the sister and daughter of first grade teachers, I have a unique perspective on back to school challenges.

I had incredibly high expectations for my high school junior last spring. This year, I will be giving both my senior and my freshman in college grace. My expectation is that they feel successful and that they stay healthy and content. I will be giving myself grace as well. Although I am not currently a classroom teacher, I will always be an educator. It is difficult to not go overboard. We will do our best, whatever that looks like. We will give each other grace. In addition, my advice to myself – stop engaging with trolls who do not have skin in the game. There are too many opinions that, frankly, do not matter – those who have never stepped foot in a classroom as a parent or an educator, those who were never a room mom, those who have never comforted an anxious child before a big test/presentation/event/game, etc.

There is no room in this conversation for those without empathy for every educator, for every parent, and for every child. Those of us who have children – all with unique needs & dispositions must give each other grace to make the best choice we feel meets the needs of our individual children and our individual family. Be patient with school leaders. Refrain from criticizing your child, refrain from criticizing your friends and the decision they make for their family, and most of all refrain from criticizing your child’s teacher. Seek to empathize. Give yourself grace.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

Let me be clear where I stand on the issue of getting us back to school. I want my child to go back to school. I will send him when it is deemed safe. My 17 year old will be starting his senior year of high school online in three weeks. His brother was blessed to have graduated in 2019, pre-COVID, and I pray that my youngest gets to have all of the milestones: the Senior Night for Varsity Soccer, awards ceremonies and banquets, the Senior Prom, graduation and graduation parties. This child and his classmates have had enough disruption due to our school district’s reorganization, having to switch both elementary schools and middle schools! But more than anything, I’d like my child to be alive. He will survive an online senior year, if needed. He will have stories to share and he will figure out a way to start over when we get this pandemic under control. However, as much as I want him back in a classroom, I am disturbed by the lack of leadership, the lack of direction, the lack of funding (over generations), and most of all the lack of understanding about what actually happens day to day in every school, in every city, throughout the United States. The lack of empathy for all of the adults that will be put at risk, who have dedicated their lives to work with our children has been shocking to me. You cannot have a discussion about students without taking into consideration all of the adults that educate and care for them.

I am must add that I am also a passionate advocate for social justice. I am acutely aware of the technology divide between our middle class suburban families and our urban/rural working poor. We have to acknowledge that for many families, the school building and the heroes that work there are a lifeline. For many children, it is the only place where they are seen and heard. For many more, school is where they are feed – both literally and emotionally. We must understand that much of the trepidation educators and advocates feel is compounded by the concern for our most vulnerable. I hesitated to even initiate this extremely complex and layered topic, but we cannot discuss education without addressing the disparities that exist. We will shed light on these issues in detail soon.

We can discuss & debate, but please do not judge – ourselves or others. There are no “right” answers here.

Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

We will never be the same Post-COVID-19. As we seek to survive this ongoing pandemic, we must adjust our expectations and realize that what was may be changed forever. That is okay. Allow yourself to be flexible and to grow. Look inside yourself to find the grace for others and for yourself.

Definitions of Grace per Merriam-Webster.

PS – I am finishing this through tears after re-reading the Detroit News article about my dear friend *Monica’s life, cut way too short by this frightening virus. So I, again, ask of you — please . . .
Give Grace in the Time of COVID.

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