As we navigate these uncertain times with schools being closed, businesses being impacted, lives being rearranged and life being changed, at least for the short term, we need to understand that everyone is trying to make the best decisions possible based on the best information available.
Very few, if anyone, has dealt with situations like we are experiencing in March and seemingly well into April.
With schools being ordered closed indefinitely, there is a major impact on our students, our families and our communities.
The closure of our schools in Arcadia, and surrounding areas, has numerous repercussions.
The greatest impact is on families and students. Families need to suddenly rearrange their lives in order to ensure their children are cared for and their needs are being met.
Students are suddenly experiencing issues they are likely not prepared for. Within a 96-hour period, students went from knowing they would have school the next day to not knowing what the next day was going to bring.
For students, school is where they not only do their academic learning, but it is where they make their social connections, get one or two meals per day, form bonds with staff and engage in extracurricular activities such as sports, music, drama, FFA, FBLA, and many more.
Abruptly, all of that is gone. Students are left wondering what is next.
They are wondering when they will get to read on the carpet in their elementary classroom; when they get to work or their art or their math in middle school; when they get to do that cool lab in their high school science class.
All of our kids are dealing with many emotions right now, and we all need to understand and acknowledge that they may not have all of the tools to navigate those emotions.
My heart breaks for all of our students, but one group I have thought about a lot lately is the seniors.
They have put in so many hours and years to reach their senior year and to experience the many things that come with one’s senior year of high school — their last play, their last prom, their last sporting events, their last concert, their last classes of high school, their senior awards banquet and graduation.
We are unsure whether some of these things will happen and may not know for some time. I am sure the anxiety that the seniors are feeling right now is heightened. We need to know this, acknowledge it, and do what we can to help them finish high school in what could be a very untraditional way.
We also know that our employers are impacted because of the school closure.
They are now needing to work differently with their employees to help them meet the needs of their families when kids are at home unexpectedly. Employers deal with these types of issues periodically when school might be closed for inclement weather, but not extended school closures like we are experiencing.
Beyond that, our employers and small businesses in our communities are experiencing other hardships that they have never experienced. While the economy will always ebb and flow, these are uncharted economic times that we are experiencing because of this worldwide health crisis.
Please, in any way you can, try to reach out to these businesses and support them. Many of these businesses are asked to support our schools and other organizations throughout the school year. Please, if you can, try to support them.
Lastly, this school closure has an impact on our staff. We are asking staff to do things that they have not had to do before.
They need to work differently to make every effort to engage students in academic enrichment and learning.
We are asking them to volunteer to pack, deliver and hand out meals to families during this school closure. We are asking them to volunteer to help deep clean our buildings. We are asking them to be strong for kids and help kids navigate through this.
Staff are being asked to reach out to our students on a regular basis during this extended closure. We want to ensure our students stay connected to school and that their social and emotional well-being is being looked after. Our staff is doing, and will continue to do, some great things.
Please know that the School District of Arcadia, just like other districts, is committed to keeping students, families, and the community as informed as possible to the ever changing situation.
Our district will continue to update our website with information and we will continue to push information using our social media accounts.
Please understand that none of us has ever dealt with the situation that we are dealing with.
Now more than ever, we need to do the right thing, at the right time for the right reason.
Lance Bagstad is district administrator of the School District of Arcadia.
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