Aloha, dear TGI readers.
After reading today’s letter to the editor (Saying the word resilient doesn’t make it real, May 14 Forum), I wanted to shout out that this morning, 27 of my 27 Kapa‘a Middle School students showed up to eighth-grade English class. Yea! As it is a B Day, seven came in person and the rest logged in, on time, online. A Day Monday, 14 will return, and the others will be online, but we are all together, all of the time, every day, simultaneously.
I realize Ms. Matsuda’s experiences are very different from mine. It appears she had very trying experiences with her school. I’m sorry. However, I wanted to assure people that though this pandemic has been TRYING, every school, every classroom and every student has fared differently.
The KMS teachers have been at work from day one, consulting, masking, sanitizing, social distancing, and ready to go during a time when we didn’t know what COVID-19 was or if we would make it out alive.
The entire school pulled together to get laptops, hot spots and lessons out to our students. Counselors and admin followed up with the most-vulnerable youth (even in the beach camps) to make sure they were hooked up. Teachers took workshops to refine their tech skills and then taught their classes. Extra tutoring went on after hours.
Despite the risks, we pulled our most-vulnerable youth back on campus to learn. Then we moved into blended A/B days, carefully arranging students into ohanas or COVID bubbles, so we could track an outbreak. Because of the careful planning, we successfully identified three separate cases this spring, and took appropriate measures, so we could track, isolate and keep school open. Many of the staff have now been vaccinated, but not all. Some are pregnant, nursing or have underlying health issues, but they still show up in person.
Despite everything, my students wrote essays, reports and journal entries, read novels and made presentations. Maybe we couldn’t cover everything, but we did learn compassion and flexibility. We learned to rely on each other. Was this a waste?
Yesterday, I asked my students about their summer plans. A student shared she earns $20 an hour babysitting. Well, when I do the math on my take-home pay, she’s bested me! I’m not grumbling. It’s been an honor to serve my classes and this school this year. I also count myself lucky to have been on Kaua‘i, where we were cautious. I only have to look at the news to see other states and other countries have not fared as well.
Mary Jo Wilder is a resident of Kapa‘a.