“Welcome to the first day of school. We’re glad to see you back.
Make sure to mute your microphone if it’s not your turn to speak.
Let’s all introduce ourselves! Lets start right up front with…
Well, the first other video on my screen is James, so let’s start there.
So James, tell us your name, your favorite subject, and what’s a hobby you really enjoy?
James, you forgot to unmute.”
Welcome to our new world. This is what many schools are dealing with across the country. Even in schools which have started face to face learning, there are still families which have chosen to stay home this year, making sure they make the chance of catching Covid from classmates almost zero. I’m sure the conversations happening have a lot of the same vibes; “this is us trying to sound completely normal, but here are the new-age stipulations we’re dealing with trying to stop it…we’re not gonna let them, though.”
Yes, being conformed to a partial online experience sounds like something out of Black Mirror, but we’re going to pretend we’re not writing a script about the end of our society as we’ve known it. We’re going to put on our thinking caps and find ways to show positivity will get us through this time. And we’re going to pray we can get back to some sort of normalcy.
Sorry, that’s a wonderfully depressing (and long) introduction to say the school year has not started as planned. Some of you reading this aren’t dealing with these things directly, but are dealing with your student having to wear a mask every day, following one way signals about as well as Chicago drivers, and enjoying the extra leg room from having spread out desks in each classroom. It’s the little things here which will keep us entertained through these tough times.
As students of any age, I know this has been difficult. The world as you once saw it, whether full of dreams or full of nightmares, as somehow become even more daunting than it did before. Our society has become discouraged by the never ending story of outbreaks shared amongst our family, friends, coworkers and so on. And in the middle of our steps forward, it seems that we’re stuck stepping back in multiple different directions. It’s hard to hold up going forward when we have been continually let down by the mainstream leaders.
But there is hope to be had.
With a vaccine on the way, there is the potential the world could find a touch of normalcy over the next few months. We overcame the coin crisis (to an extent), and self checkout lanes finally opened back up for cash payments at our local grocery stores. People have invented all kinds of new ways to hang out in this tough time, like drive through birthday celebrations, virtual card games of all kinds, and Facetime calls to everyone we love. We have found out how much small business matters to us, as we have seen the suffering of some owners and fought to keep open as many different places as possible.
As we continue to fight through a time of social distance, we can no longer allow for our hearts to experience this distance. As much as the calls don’t do the laughter justice, and as much as masks take away from the smiles in public, we must continue to endure these moments to be able to embrace each other again. This isn’t a statement on what works and what doesn’t; it’s a call to the hearts of all people to believe there is hope beyond these moments, and we won’t be away forever. School will return in person one day, we’ll get to see sports from the bleachers, and we’ll be able to shake up with our friends when we see them in public.
As we listen to the calls on our computers and witness the gaps between people expand, continue to find hope in knowing we can fill the gap. As we have now adjusted and become accustomed to this new normal, don’t forget this normal will change.