Return to Buildings an Emotion-Filled Experience

Posted by George Arlotto, Ed.D. on 2/19/2021

The first groups of students whose families chose hybrid instruction for them are now back in our school buildings and over the next month, at least some students in every grade will be in front of teachers in an in-person environment for which we have yearned for nearly a year.


The reopening of our school buildings is, of course, accompanied by a full slate of emotions for families, students, and employees alike. Happiness. Relief. Eagerness.


Anxiousness. Anxiety. Fear. Trepidation.

I understand them all. I’ll add another, however: optimism. I am more optimistic about where we are going now than I have been at perhaps any point in this pandemic. After months of fits and starts, of drawing up plans and redrawing them, of building up hope and having it dashed, we are finally moving students and teachers back to where they belong: in classrooms.


The COVID-19 rollercoaster ride is no one’s fault, and it’s pointless to spend time pointing fingers. We are where we are, and we’ve simply got to make the best of a situation that none of us asked for or wanted.


As I’ve said many times, the work every single person on our team has done has been awesome and inspiring. Teachers are the most visible parts of our team to be sure, and the way they have reinvented – and will continue to reinvent – education has been nothing short of phenomenal.

Our school-based administrators and secretaries have navigated a series of constant course corrections brought on by myriad changes. They’ve compiled hybrid class rosters and then set them aside, only to work on them again in recent weeks.


Our athletics team has created the most opportunities they could given the restrictions, and if all continues to go well, we will see competitive high school athletics in the next month.


Our clubs and other extracurricular activities – music, dance, theater, robotics, etc. – also are poised to do more, and I am excited for all of it.
Behind the scenes, there are several groups of people to whom we owe eternal thanks.


Our operations personnel – custodians, maintenance workers, etc. – have not missed a day.


They’ve been in buildings since March 16, the first day they were closed, and continue to do heroic work.


Equally amazing has been the work of our Food and Nutrition Services employees.


They’ve not missed a single school day of serving meals since March, and they even ensured meals got to children over the summer. Last week we passed the 5 million mark in meals served.


Children are getting free, nutritious meals thanks to their dedication.


Then there’s our Academics team, which has continued to alter curriculum and instruction to meet the changing times; and those doing the tireless work of preparing, repairing, and distributing the technology for all students and staff; and those on the business side of the house, who have secured the PPE and other equipment, kept the bills paid, and ensure that we are
ready to go when the time comes.


That time is now. Smaller groups of students are now learning in our developmental centers and our Centers of Applied Technology. Elementary school students return March 1 and a week later, students in grades 6, 9, and 12 will back. By March 22, all of our hybrid students at
every level will have returned.


The buzz you hear is excitement. Above all the other noises, we have students who are eager to see the inside of their classrooms again and teachers who are just as eager to stand in the front of those rooms and do what they do best: create magic for our students.


We can do this. We can make this a success. We can take this huge step toward a return to in-classroom instruction for all. We must do it together, and everyone must make the necessary adjustments and do their part.
I’m excited. Let’s make this happen.


The writer is Superintendent of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. He can be reached at superintendent@aacps.org.