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School restart will be especially tough on our children

There’s nothing normal about this year’s first day of school.

Not even a “new” normal.

That’s because the first day of school experience for every child, every teacher, and every family will be different. At best, first day traditions this year will be anything but traditional.

Masks, social distancing and new, rigid rules.

The pandemic, and all its negative potential, has all the adults in the room stressed. Administrators are losing sleep about preparations and making the right decisions about how and when to return to school. Teachers are scrambling to upend their tried and true methods to conform to an online classroom. And parents are doing their best to shelter their children from the ongoing upheaval.

At worst, the first day of school will be little more than a walk from bed to a desk and a computer.

No first day clothes. No new backpack. No reunions with friends on the school bus.

Even in the places where students have returned to the classroom — Kingsley Area Schools started in-person instruction Tuesday — worries over a potential return to COVID-19 shutdown loom.

That’s why, regardless of all the stress the adults perceive, it’s important that we all think about how our children experience this return to school.

The next few weeks for them will be exciting, fun, a little stressful, and, if we’re not careful, traumatic. For our children, the school year restarting is not about politics or the pandemic.

No, it’s a return to something they know, something they’ve missed since March when they were sent home for what began as an extended spring break and never ended.

It’s about friends they miss, teachers they trust and the community they need.

Let’s make this first day, no matter how routine it isn’t, special for them all.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle

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