After the abrupt and extreme changes that came this past spring when schools were closed statewide, we all did the best we could at school and home to see out the school year. Winlock School Superintendent Garry Cameron together with the district's new powerhouse administration team Scott Nye, Dracy McCoy, and Nick Birklid and Winlock's new Communications and Distance Learning Director, Megan Evander, in consult with a panel of community and school personnel, spent the summer aggressively planning, preparing and gearing up for returning to school in-person while also meeting the CDC's safety requirements. They were also simultaneously preparing for the potential pivot back to distance learning at any possible moment if a rise in cases of COVID-19 occurred. Unfortunately, that moment came before students could even step foot in the classroom.
As in-person schooling was deemed "unsafe" by county and state officials, distance learning will continue as we return to school this fall, but no one knows for how long. Winlock School District teachers and staff have been intensely training on all adopted online learning platforms and exciting and powerful digital curricula. They have taken experiences from last spring and learned from them. They have spent the interim time adapting, transitioning, training, planning, and equipping, preparing for the quickly approaching digital return of students on August 31, ready and excited for the continued adventure of distance learning.
However, this back to school preparation is incomplete. The sudden and steady state-wide changes that have occurred throughout 2020 due to this pandemic have affected much more than just our schools. Our whole lives have been upturned. Change has been rampant. Closures and constraints everywhere have sent us home, gathered as families. Not every family dynamic is the same, and all of our struggles and difficulties vary, but there is such power in family and it's time to call upon it. It is as families that we need to figure out how to navigate this difficult time, reliant on each other, calling on friends and community as needed.
School is not just school this year; the learning is coming home, more than it ever has. We have to be there for our kids-- to support and encourage them, assist where needed, and create an environment for them to flourish. Of course as parents, grandparents, and guardians we have always been teachers and exemplars to our kids in all areas of life, but that role, and our need to rise to it, expands as we seek to support them academically, emotionally, and in all ways at home this year. Are we ready? Our preparations are just as important and essential as those being undertaken by our schools. What are we doing to strengthen ourselves as parents and caregivers? Where can we improve? What can we do to strengthen our homes? How can we strengthen our relationships with our kids to better support them? How can we strengthen our families? We need desperately to draw from those powerful relationships in this unprecedented time riddled with change and unknowns. We have to reach for our very best and rise to the occasion to be there for our kids.
Back to school 2020 is back to school for everyone this year, and we all have a great deal of learning to do. Good things happen when we step out of our comfort zones willing to stretch ourselves, wanting to do and be better. That is true for our schools as they adapt and seek to excel in distance learning. It is also true for us at home as we seek to strengthen ourselves and our families to support our rising generation as home becomes the classroom this year. Let's all learn together. We can do this!