The stories and columns in this edition speak to what the next phase of coming out of a pandemic might look like.
Readers will find school districts planning for a return to normal in the next academic year. Over the next few months, educators will likely be discussing how to make up for what’s been lost in the past year from educational and extracurricular experiences as well as social and emotional support. Districts received and will get more federal and state money to cover COVID-related expenses to help students. They will have to determine the best ways to invest that money to bring students who may have fallen behind up to standards but also to push ahead top achievers.
One of our columnists encourages all levels of government to learn from what we’ve experienced and build contingency plans while this is fresh in our minds, so we may adapt quickly and efficiently for whatever comes next.
From the headlines earlier this week, the hospitality, sports and entertainment industries are navigating the latest COVID-related “dial turns” announced by Gov. Tim Walz that went into effect March 15. And businesses are examining what staffing and safety protocols look like as more of them consider a return to business as usual.
In our passionate pursuit of returning to “normal,” let’s not miss an opportunity to define a “new normal.”
For our schools, it could be easy to fall back into the daily lesson plans, assessing state standards and trying to fit everything in each term. We also should focus on the social and emotional engagement that has been stunted for too long for too many and carve out time to connect on a deeper level.
For businesses, now is an ideal time to re-evaluate flexible work conditions that fit. While your workforce may have gone completely remote during the pandemic, does it need to come back fully in the office? Can team members work two days from home each week for better work-life balance?
Closer to home, families had more time to take walks, play board games, plan meals and simply be. While that, too, became overwhelming at times, let’s not rush back into the daily grind where we are all too busy to have meaningful time together.
As we return to a new normal, what will you keep from the past year?