It’s hard to believe that tomorrow we find out the fate of the incoming school year! Will we start the year with full distance learning? If not, which hybrid plan will the district utilize? Like many parents and students, my mind has shifted back and forth on what to do and how to process the plan that Governor Walz will announce. I was feeling rather hopeful back in the spring that we would be able to start the 2020-2021 school normally (whatever normal seems to mean!?).  I was optimistic that the situation would stabilize by the start of school, and we could get back to what was familiar.

What has become familiar is not knowing what to expect. It’s been hard not being able to mentally prepare the family. Some kids need to know all the details; other kids just go with the flow. What questions have your kids been asking? What have you been telling them? In our family, the kids seem to understand (and appreciate) the benefits to both in person and distance learning. We had a fairly decent transition to distance learning in March. Yes, we had our share of tech issues and tears, but tried to make the most of it.

This post isn’t about which return to school plan is the best. There are too many different viewpoints on this topic. This post is meant to remind us that whatever decision is made tomorrow and in the coming weeks, none of us asked to be in this position. I’m sure our elected officials on a local and state level have had enough stress and pressure coming from all directions. I’m pretty sure our teachers, school administrators and staff would rather be operating in a manner they know best. As parents, many of us would rather not have to worry if our kids will stay healthy if they return to the classroom — or if they can distance learn effectively while parents work full time. No scenario is a win-win for every family.

But don’t despair! While some families have made their decision to homeschool or switch to a different academic setting to suit their needs, the rest of us can get in the mindset of making the best out of what happens in the coming weeks. I’m choosing to think about the positives from the Governor’s decision (whatever it may be), so that I personally feel positive.

Looking back to this spring, I’m sure you learned a lot about your kids, your teachers, and our school district. I think of the future, and what possibilities await because of what we’ve learned about how academics can be delivered, and how our students learn. There is a silver lining somewhere. Maybe we haven’t found it yet. When I think of how we might react with the Governor’s announcement, I try to keep several things in mind:

  • Some students will mentally, emotionally, and physically love the decision –  some will struggle with it
  • Some parents are going to have an easier time adjusting, – some will struggle finding ways to make it work
  • Some families might seek out alternative options better fit for their family – others will accept what is proposed

On a lighter note — while I was at Target the other day, I saw all the glorious school supplies. Normally I would get so excited to help the boys pick out their supplies (and a few extra for myself!). With Eden Prairie Schools having an early start date this year, we would normally start thinking about what the new school year will bring. Anyone else miss the back to school shopping and excitement? Hard to know what to buy when you have no idea what the start of the year will look like! Maybe tomorrow’s decision will finally give some of us the closure we need, so we can move forward and prepare for the winding journey ahead.

I know as parents, we’ve got this. It seems like every day we tell our children that they can choose to have a positive attitude about the various things they might not agree with in the moment. We can do the same, and support each other the way we ask them to support their siblings and friends. However you experience your first day of school this year, my wish for you and your family is that it goes better than expected.

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Carolyn Wieland

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