“New data suggest that the damage from shutting down schools has been worse than almost anyone expected,” the Economist tweeted recently to promote a new article in its pages that details the academic and social-emotional fallout caused by school shutdowns worldwide. While any spotlight on this cataclysm is welcome, the truth is that many people did expect these shutdowns to be terrible for students and their families. That’s why lots of parents and educators marshaled extraordinary leadership in a time of fear and uncertainty to reopen their schools after the initial Spring 2020 shutdown. And chief among these leaders were the principals and teachers in America’s Catholic schools.
What was it like to stand apart from the crowd in summer 2020 and insist that schools must re-open? For starters, it was scary. Now that the dust has settled, it’s easy to forget how much uncertainty there was two years ago, how little we knew, and how much reopening required a willingness to make hard decisions, guided as best we could at the time by science. It was by far the most challenging months I have experienced in more than twenty years working in schools.
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