Be Comfortable

Kevin Casey, SAANYS Executive Director
September 2022 News & Notes

It’s that time of year again. Time to wistfully watch the late summer days grow shorter, and to anticipate the return of students and staff for another school year. For many, July 1 does not really mark the onset of the school year. The new school year needs to be accompanied by people, noise, excitement, and for some, a little uncertainty.

Some of the uncertainty is entirely normal, especially among students. I believe there is a widespread hope that the pandemic has evolved to a point where educating, as opposed to protecting or complying, has once again become primary among the various responsibilities of educators. Going into this year it is reasonable to believe that you won’t be whipsawed by the latest ever-changing pronouncement from one governmental entity or another. Contact tracing, testing, distancing… will hopefully all be a thing of the past.

The thing about evolution is that it tends to move slowly. No informed individual is expecting a switch to an educational Shangri La, or even a fast return to pre-pandemic norms. There are all sorts of challenges that are very real. Some caused by the pandemic, some exacerbated by it, and some probably not related to it at all.

I know several administrators still scrambling to complete their hiring. There are openings for teachers, nurses, bus drivers… In the absence of a needed hire, how might one juggle the schedule or re-route the buses? The impact of interrupted learning over the past couple of years remains a significant concern. How is that best addressed given the constraints of time and resources? The answer to that question is not likely to be uniform in any event.

Will our tumultuous political environment drain time and energy from child-focused efforts? Does it contribute to the accelerated rate of retirement that we have seen among educators in the recent past? Will student behavioral issues return to pre-pandemic rates or remain elevated compared to historical rates?

These questions suggest areas of ongoing concern. They are important and challenging. The reality is that there is never a time where there are no challenges. Despite the existence of our current challenges, the environment of this school year looks to be better and more normal than any period of time since March of 2020. That alone should provide hope that you can focus your energies on matters directly relevant to serving students. I suspect that is your comfort zone.