Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Moving Towards Normal

The announcement this week that New York City schools will be open for in-person instruction in September, with no remote learning options, is one more step towards a post-pandemic world. But make no mistake - things aren't going to be the same. Even without the heartbreaking loss of life, this pandemic changed us all, in ways large and small, and it is unlikely that our families, our city, our country, and the world will go back to what some have called "the before times" any time soon.

Even as more of us are vaccinated, there still remain many Americans who cannot or will not get vaccinated, at least in the near future. The ages at which the vaccines are deemed safe and effective keep dropping, but young children still cannot receive the vaccine, which means that in families in which everyone 12 and up has received their shots, there may still be younger children who are not protected by these scientific miracles. And there are still folks who haven't gotten the vaccine and who may not be planning to. Some may have medical conditions that make a vaccination problematic. Others are skeptical for a wide array of reasons. We'll leave the reasons for this aside, but note that reaching "herd immunity" is going to be a stretch in many areas.

Our workplaces, too, have changed and it is not clear whether people will return to their offices on a regular basis, or whether a large number will continue to work remotely either full or part-time. Here at The Yellin Center we are thinking about what our offices will look like in the months to come. At some point, but certainly not yet, we won't need the plastic screens between our clinicians and our students. We will be able to take down the signs reminding everyone to keep their masks on. And we will even be able to put the magazines back in the reception area and the toys back in the family rooms. But not yet...

Students have missed so many of the learning opportunities and social rituals that being together in a classroom, in a school building, or in a school community provide. Goofing around in the hallway, lunchroom, or playground; graduation and proms; and creative classroom play for the youngest of students all have been lost for more than a year and it will take time for students and teachers to get used to them again. Learning loss over the past year and more has been significant. While some children (often those in private schools) had a good deal of in-person instruction, most students dealt with remote schooling most or all of the time. Students with learning or emotional difficulties were often especially challenged by sitting in front of their computer all day, lacking the level of support they had been used to receiving before the pandemic hit.  

Your blogger, too, temporarily lost her writing muse and is just now emerging from a pandemic funk to look around and see things she wants to share with readers. As we spend time with family and friends and start to share hugs with those we have missed, as families send children off to summer camp, and as students think about buying school supplies for in-person education in the fall, things will slowly, slowly head back towards a new kind of normal. We look forward to plotting the way forward to post-pandemic life and learning with you.

Photo credit: Steven Cornfield on Unsplash