This fall, when we send our children back to school, the kindergartner who loved to hug everyone will become a first grader who loves to hug everyone, and her teacher will tell her to keep her hands to herself.

A teacher will lay awake at night and wonder if she made the right decision to return to school. After all, she has a preexisting condition and she’s in a high-risk group. But really, what choice did she have?

This fall, a third grader who has missed his friends will see them again for the first time since March, and they will smile in the way that only third graders can smile. No one feels joy quite like a child.

A sophomore in high school will test positive for COVID and his school will carefully implement the protocols they put in place before the year began. Some friends will wish him well, and some will give him a good-natured hard time. He will feel all right, physically, but he will be nervous. Everyone, really, will be nervous.

It’s Easy to Be Ambivalent 

Across town, a single mother will send her children to school and will know that they will eat lunch. At night, she will worry about COVID, but she will also rest in the knowledge that one of their meals is secure.

A freshman will join the swim team, since sports in her state are allowed. She will make friends, and some of those friends will last a lifetime. She and her team will stay perfectly healthy all year.

When we sent our children back to school, a child will sit in the back of his classroom and worry because his parents have been laid off. While his teacher talks, his mind will wander to the way his father sounded the night before – to the fear in his voice that was never there before.

In a middle school classroom there will be a debate about race and justice and reconciliation. A teacher will guide her class with care and wisdom and her students will learn some of life’s most valuable lessons.

Things are Uncertain

A community will mourn the loss of a teacher who loved her students – a teacher who would do absolutely anything for them. They will remember the way she greeted her students on the first day of school – full of love and enthusiasm, just like always.

Some classrooms will be smaller this fall. The students will miss their friends who are gone because parents were concerned for their health.

This fall a child will learn to read, and a whole world will open up before her. A love of literature, a love that will last a lifetime, will begin with a single book.

All across the country, children will go back to school. Millions of parents and teachers and students will be relieved. Millions will be nervous.

But You’re a Teacher…

Schools will do what they always do, and they’ll do what they’ve never done. They’ll teach students about math and compassion and hand-washing. They’ll provide safety and structure and free facemasks. Sometimes, it will feel like the world is back to normal; sometimes the world will feel tragic or bizarre.

When life at school gets particularly strange, the class probably won’t know exactly what to make of things. After all, they’re only children. Can we really expect them to make sense of it all?

…and your students need you.

We hope all of you are staying safe as you prepare for the upcoming semester. We remain committed to helping teachers face these new challenges while bringing curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking to students everywhere. Please make use of these free resources from Blue Apple!