I Hope I am Wrong

Kevin Casey, SAANYS Executive Director
February 2022 News & Notes

I hope you were able to respond to the SAANYS request to complete our COVID-related survey regarding the impact COVID has had on you, your job, your building, and your students and staff. The survey just closed, so I am not yet able to share hard data with you, but we will soon publicize the data widely, regardless of what it shows.

We all know that the pandemic has been a huge challenge to educators in a variety of ways. I have said before, and believe to this day, that the pandemic has impacted educators more than other professions, with the exception of certain health care providers and first responders. The spring of 2020 seems like a long time ago, when educators were trying to establish effective remote learning strategies, establish Wi-Fi hotspots, distribute laptops, tablets and meals, all in a pre-vaccine environment of fear, tension, and uncertainty. The daily reports of COVID’s toll, particularly in New York City, were horrific.

Remote learning improved, but I think most would agree, remains a poor substitute for in-person learning. Our level of knowledge regarding COVID improved, but remains evolving. Seemingly effective vaccines were developed, but their acceptance is incomplete, and local COVID testing has expanded. Advice regarding the utilization of masks and distancing has been changing, and the source of differing opinions, but was presented as tools to allow students to safely return to school.

Having students back in schools has been a big step forward, and has highlighted continuing challenges regarding learning, student mental health, local COVID testing, staffing, and perhaps above all I have mentioned, the continued need for masking.

In my opinion it is not masking, or any of the other issues I mentioned above, that is in the forefront of what SAANYS members, along with other school staff, deal with today. Based upon anecdotal information only, it is the decline of civility and the rise of emotion, impatience, and disrespect as part of the public debate. We all want what is best for our children, but our current state of knowledge doesn’t allow us to know what that is. There is no magic wand or crystal ball. Is one better off with or without a mask? Is there even a single answer or does it vary by individual and/or circumstance? Much can be determined by informed discussion, but little by yelling and threatening. I look forward to the SAANYS survey responses. I genuinely hope it proves me wrong.