An Unexpected Comeback

 by Gennie López

This school year was meant to be a comeback year for schools, a return to classrooms and restoration of relationships after months of remote or hybrid learning, social and emotional distancing, and chronic uncertainty. However, nothing was even close to “normal”. Although students have been warriors, showing up despite hardships, craving for socialization, and displaying kindness to each other in a year filled with perplexity – the rise and fall (and rise) of the unforgiving coronavirus, mouth masks on, and prolonged social distancing, their confidence has been shattered by learning disruptions and difficulty readjusting to in-person education.

Many students spent the most critical brain-building period of their life in stressful circumstances: anxious parents confined 24/7, ever so much screen time, and persistent isolation. Some students, used to eating any time while they were at home, struggled to wait for their recess snacks until it was time for recess! Others acted out saying “no!” when asked to write or draw or listen, pushing or biting a classmate (or even a teacher) who didn’t comply to their demands.

With the new variants of the virus causing disruptions that school authorities had hoped were behind them, detriment was seen again – back to remote learning, student absences, teachers out sick, and constant debates about how to balance student needs with health and safety. But the aim was clear, this year was focused unflaggingly on recovery for students – regardless of which teacher had come down with the virus, the students still needed to receive instruction, care, and motivation, so, somehow, teachers were put in front of students, whatever the cost.

Getting students to be engaged again felt like an uphill battle. Schools have struggled with absenteeism and tardiness, and in many ways, it feels like people are blaming teachers for these and other problems.

Working on Zoom felt overwhelming and inexpressibly draining for teachers but connecting with their students kept them going. Many have given great thought to continuing their teaching careers, as they have never wanted to do the job just to collect a paycheck, but they are emotionally and physically burnt out; many were struck by COVID, and their life and family were affected by the virus and its aftermath... They’ve come so far this year, but at a cost to themselves.

At Liceo del Valle de Toluca, we all have much to be grateful for as we continue to move forward as a school community. Students, parents, staff, faculty, and administrators have done so much to keep our school open and safe. I have been humbled by the dedication of our teachers, coordinators, staff, and directors who worked so diligently to support our students’ social, emotional, and educational needs. I am in awe of you, parents and caregivers, who are so steadfast in your love and advocacy for your children. I am especially grateful for our wonderful LVT teachers who faced adversity, who struggled, and who persevered in strength and resiliency. Because of our students, families, and staff, our school has emerged stronger than before.

The unity, strength, and resilience of our Liceo del Valle de Toluca community has always been remarkable, and I’m confident that our governing values, truth, justice, and fraternity, will continue to be held in the highest regard, come what may.