Sarah Katheron Latham
“I have confidence in sunshine. I have confidence in rain. I have confidence that spring will come again. And besides what you see, I have confidence in me,” sings Maria in the Sound of Music during the song “I Have Confidence.” Confidence is something that seems to be lacking these days. Everything around us seems to be changing, leaving the next days and months of our lives extremely uncertain; therefore, we need to establish something that is not going to change, uncertainty. That will not go away this year. Plans will continue to change, guidelines will continue to change, and opinions about all of it will continue to fluctuate.
Activities like band, choir, and sports have had a difficult start to this school year. New guidelines have to be created and followed for every type of gathering. Not only is it hard enough to maintain social distancing in a classroom, it is even more challenging to know what is safe and acceptable when participating in an activity that requires you to propel more air forward, such as choir and band. Currently, choirs are allowed to sing only if they maintain social distancing, wear a mask, and sing outside. Bands are required to play outside, and play with instrument masks or bell covers. Sports are allowed to continue as long as spectators wear masks, players wear masks on the bench, and temperatures are taken before the game. Other precautions have also been set for specific sports. The present arrangement of hybrid learning (only half at school at a time with several others choosing to do school virtually) leaves classes like these that rely on interaction and participation with complicated problems to solve. As such complications start to pile up, we must decide to face them with all the confidence we can muster and keep looking forward to whatever uncertain future lies in front of us.
Another thing that will remain uncertain for the foreseeable future is how students will be learning. Truthfully, even what the next week or month will be like is uncertain. As the number of COVID-19 cases in the county are constantly on the rise, the county’s decision of how students should be learning is constantly in motion. While the county has provided a clear plan in their four phases, it still caught many people by surprise to learn that we would enter school as if we were in Phase 2 even though numbers were on the edge of Phase 3. The point here is not to stir up arguments over whether the county is handling the situation correctly and honestly, but the point is to realize that our circumstances are especially uncertain these days. Therefore we keep moving forward through whatever guidelines we need to follow.
Through all this uncertainty, stress is rising among students and especially teachers. Teachers are facing challenges that have never been experienced before. Teaching students online and in-person simultaneously have teachers feeling stressed: “I feel like a ping pong ball.” “I feel like a first year teacher.” “That was the craziest lesson I have ever taught.” As everyone learns to cope with an onslaught of new information, we must keep moving forward and give extra grace to our teachers.
It is certain that we will be uncertain of almost everything for this school year. COVID-19 numbers will continue to change, which means everything revolving around the dreaded pandemic will also continue to change. Maybe things will get better; maybe things will get worse. No person knows what is ahead, but in the words of Reverend Mother in the Sound of Music when Maria ran away from her problems, “Climb every mountain. Ford every stream. Follow every rainbow, till you find your dream. A dream that will need all the love you can give, every day of your life for as long as you live.” No matter what your situation is right now, continue to climb the mountain in front of you, even if you don’t know what is on the other side.