No recent Holiday Season has carried the amount of uncertainty that this year’s season does. What we viewed as the normal routines and celebrations of the Holidays has been drastically altered by the COVID pandemic. Schools have also been thrown into the uncertainty created by the pandemic. However, amid this uncertainty, I feel El Portal and all Escalon Unified School District schools provide examples of hope and cheer in what may otherwise seem to be a dreary time.
Overall, re-opening the El Portal Middle School campus has been a very positive thing for us. Having many of our students participating “in-person” has allowed us to re-establish the extremely important social interactions that “distance learning” did not allow. Multiple staff members, students, and parents have shared stories of how being back on-campus has positively impacted them. As an administrator, having the opportunity to “see” students on campus and engage in direct interaction has been revitalizing. It is hard to explain unless experienced, but it seems as if there has been a “COVID bond” formed between us. We do not enjoy wearing masks, but we are willing to wear them for each other. We do not enjoy taking the “long way” around the buildings, but we will do it for each other. We do not enjoy waiting, but we are willing to be patient with each other. The theme: we are in this together and we are willing to make sacrifices for each other. I’m convinced that without this willingness to look out for the greater good of the students and families of EPMS and EUSD, we would not be one of only two districts in our county open for on-campus, in-person learning for grades K-12. Personally, I’m very proud of that last sentence.
When we initially returned, we were not sure how students would respond to the new realities of on-campus learning. EUSD staff spent time developing new procedures to address COVID concerns. We discussed how to train our students to follow these procedures and what we might need to do to promote following them. As it turned out, our students were quick to adapt and very willing to follow the measures put in place. I believe their behaviors reflect their desire for “in-person” learning. On-campus student discipline issues have been virtually non-existent. Every day our students demonstrate a desire for “in-person” learning to continue.
So, what can we do to help keep the “in person” option at EPMS and other EUSD schools? To me, the answer is simple: we must continue to be diligent in our utilizations of safety precautions. Frequent sanitation of hands (washing/using hand sanitizer), using masks when unable to maintain appropriate distancing, and staying home when experiencing symptoms are three big components to this. Our desire is to continue to be with your students on our campus. Working together, I feel we can make this happen.
Thank you for your continued support.
Principally Speaking is a monthly article, contributed by principals from Escalon Unified School District sites, throughout the school year. It is designed to update the community on school events and activities.