As our New Year approaches, I am quick to give thanks for the health of my parents and my children. For our community, however, there is so much more. As the Covid-19 pandemic begins its journey into the annals of history, each one of us begins to resume more normal daily activity. I for one am elated.
After two and a half years of sheltered living, I am happy to spend time and celebrate with my children, my parents, my co-workers, my friends, and even strangers. I know we are not out of the woods yet, but every journey has a beginning and an end, and we are seeing beginnings and ends.
There are so many facets to a full and open life: Simchas, life-cycle events and celebrations that nourish the soul; the ability to go back to work, create something, be productive and provide for yourself and your family; praying together, vacationing, experiencing, eating and learning with family and friends.
But one facet stands out to me – sending our children back to school. I do want to make a disclaimer that I believe it is the right of every family to decide when this is appropriate, but as a community, getting back to in-person education is paramount. I am not suggesting that the last two years has been a total sabbatical. I also recognize that online education has come a long way in two years.
As the dust settles, it appears fairly clear that online education cannot accomplish all the critical goals that we have assigned to education in this country.
First, in-person school allows for the full breadth of two income earners that so many households rely upon. Obviously, this doesn’t directly affect the student, but it does affect the wellbeing of the entire family.
Socialization is also a key element that we as a community have placed upon our educational institutions. An element that, unfortunately, many teachers are seeing the lack thereof as in-person gets underway. The good news is that this is an area where being late is better than never. The bad news is that there is a two-year gap.
Of course, learning itself has been relegated to a slower pace and I suspect the ramifications will not be evident for several years. I know this is an extreme example, but I do not think any one of us wants our next surgeon to have aced all his tests but hasn’t met a patient yet.
The bottom-line is that we are rounding the corner and have a lot to look forward to next year. Travel, family gatherings, school, entertainment and many more things will be opening back up. I am looking forward to seeing you there!