Imagine last summer, at the end of August. Do you recall checking through your children’s backpacks and clothing? You wanted to be sure they had gym shoes, a serviceable lunch bag. You needed to be certain their windbreaker still fit.

Perhaps like thousands of other parents, you tried to get a jump on back-to-school supply shopping and headed out in the summer heat to buy pens or crayons or notebooks.

Many families book medical check-ups and dental visits just before school starts. Often youth will get a haircut or go clothing shopping. One of my friends who is a Grandmother likes to save her daughters the trouble and expense of school clothing shopping. She takes her grandchildren out in turns for a special afternoon of picking out a new outfit.

Last year, as the days shortened and the summer heat dissolved into lovely, refreshing evenings, you might have spent time with your child, now taller than you, packing boxes and suitcases for the trip to college in a different city. That youth, one minute so grown up and another so young and vulnerable, needs to organize bedding and a kettle. Can you not see him, in your mind’s eye, bored with your concerns about an automatic shut-off in the department store? Isn’t she so serious, asking if she can have a new comforter? Aren’t you proud?

Hold that image in your mind…in your heart. Remember late last summer and your preparations for school with your child. See yourself crowed into the lineup at Staples, the binders falling out of your arms because you didn’t think you needed a cart. Recall that argument with your 8 year old over a sports team jacket. Didn’t it seem as though the horrified looks of other parents’ well-behaved offspring were a bit much? Do you remember feeling fed up with their smug parents?

Think of all those end-of-summer, get-ready-for-school rituals.

Did you ever imagine in all those summers,

did you ever imagine

being terrified of your children going back to school?

Maybe you are worried that the government has not provided everything that is needed, and that’s probably true. Maybe you’re worried that the virus is too great a threat. It’s worrisome.

This is how I felt last March when this pandemic began. I worried about our hospitals and health workers not being able to manage.

But we did – even in the worst hit places we managed. There was no choice except to manage and many of us believed – then and now -that we had to face the pandemic from our front line roles.

Maybe, as a parent, you have a choice not to send your child to school. But what if you don’t have a choice? What if your child has special needs beyond your ability to teach? What if having your child in school allows you to work? Then you may not have a choice. Your child must return to school.

Just like most doctors and nurses didn’t turn from their patients, teachers will not turn from their students. Even if some choose not to teach in a classroom, many will be back in class. They know children are counting on them and they won’ let those children or their families down. They will do everything they can to keep every child safe.

I work with teachers and I hope I can be the support they need, but they really need parents’ support. Maybe this difficult time will help us to build a strong parent-teacher-community relationship.

As I remember all the summers preparing for school, I also remember wonderful Septembers as children and youth rushed to school. The world and classrooms will change, but we can still have good Septembers.

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