Combat the uncertainty with empathy

Thursday is the first day of school and in normal years students and teachers would be stocking up on back to school supplies like pencils, notebooks, binders, and folders. However, this year the most important back to school tools looks like they’re going to be empathy and grace. 

With over five million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, schools across the country have been working around the clock to create safe and effective reopening plans. FISD is opening with a three-week virtual start for all students and then transitioning into both face to face and virtual learning environments. 

Counselors and administrators have had to scramble to come up with a master schedule that meets the needs of thousands of students, teachers have had to come up with a brand new way to connect with and educate their students, and students are going to have to adapt to all of the new changes that seem to keep coming every day. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed every aspect of our lives, and everything can easily become very overwhelming. It’s natural to want to put the blame on someone else- complain about schedules not being perfect, Canvas links not working, or lagging Zoom calls. But what students need to remember is that this is one of those situations where no one knows what they’re doing- not even the adults. 

Of course, there are going to be difficulties with virtual learning. However, refrain from complaining and try to be more flexible. Teachers and staff are just as new to eLearning as the student body, and now more than ever, it is pertinent to extend grace and empathy to educators. Their job has never been harder, and they are doing the absolute best they can to make sure that the next generation is being taken care of, risking their lives to do so. 

Additionally, empathy goes both ways and teachers know that right now families are stuck at home, and every household has been hit by this pandemic differently. Some students are children of essential workers, some parents might have recently lost their jobs or lost a chunk of their income. Some kids are sharing devices with students, and some may generally have a harder time adjusting to virtual learning. Teachers understand that, and there will probably be room for some leeway when it comes to these issues that no one can truly control. 

The world has never been stranger, and the uncertainty of the pandemic can breed anxiety and cause anyone to feel overwhelmed. One thing everyone can do to help is to extend grace and empathy to one another, because if one thing is for sure- it’s that no one knows what’s going to happen next. But it is possible to maintain hope and find a new normal, it’s just going to take a lot of flexibility and compassion.