It is very exciting at present as we see the gradual return of students to onsite learning. As parents, students and school staff we have been looking forward to this for a long time! Friends can see each other again face to face, teaching and learning can be more ‘hands on’, diverse and engaging. Finally, we have a chance to return to normal. Or do we?
The extended lockdowns have certainly taken a toll on us all, but especially the students. For nearly two years now, which is a very significant fraction of a child’s life, we have been living as best we could with the many impacts of COVID-19. Some of these impacts are still to unfold in the coming months as we move into what the government refers to as ‘COVID-normal’. However, I find myself wondering whether, not only has the ‘landscape’ changed, but people as well. The students that are returning to school now are not the same as they were in early 2020. Apart from anything else, they have done a fair bit of growing up in that time. They have had to cope with many challenges, and through these they may have even developed some new skills and increased resilience. However, I expect that they have also been ‘bruised’ by the experience in a number of ways. For example, we are all very conscious of the impact the season we have been in has had on mental health and wellbeing.
Increased isolation and uncertainty has permeated us and had some unexpected and concerning results. People long for renewed contact with others, yet at the same time a tendency to withdraw is very common. Similarly, we are tired of so much ‘screen time’, but find it hard to move away from our devices as our habits and dependency on these has become so much a part of us and how we deal with things.
The next season will also have its own set of new challenges, and readjustment may not come easily. The students, in particular, will need our help in the coming months. They will need patient encouragement, understanding and support, from parents and teachers, as they reconnect with others, with learning back on campus, and even with themselves as they come gradually out from the ‘shadow’ of extended lockdowns.
Maybe it is more helpful to think about looking forward, and moving forward to new times, trusting in God’s unshakable faithfulness and unconditional love, rather than trying to return to an earlier time or state of affairs. We follow the Living God, and with His help I pray that we may have the confidence, come what may, to entrust our ‘tomorrows’ into his capable hands.