Dear parents . . . please, just hear me out.

As plans for this school year start falling into place, we all know meeting everyone’s wants and desires is literally impossible. We are all coming to this school year from different places, having had different life experiences, and with different concerns and worries. Our administrators and school board members are working countless hours trying to take everything they learn and research into account and doing their very best to make decisions for the greatest good and safety of everyone involved. They no doubt have lost sleep over what to do and how to do it.

While you personally may not agree with or approve of the decisions that have been made or are still yet to be made, as teachers and school employees we implore all of you: let’s come together and make this work.

Don’t complain about and belittle those who have had to make these difficult decisions, in front of your children. Don’t express your anger over these decisions with them. Don’t tell them we’re all wrong. Tell all of those things to your partner, spouse, or friends.

This school year is only going to work if we collectively stay on the same team.

And I can’t emphasize this enough: Your child’s experience this year at school depends largely on how they perceive you think it is going to go.

So please DO do these things. Set them up for emotional success. Please have real conversations with your children about how school is going to look this year. Help them adjust their expectations (and your own) and explain to them that lots of things are going to look different from what they have been used to. Their experiences of using supplies, work time in the classroom, lunch, walking in the hallways…it is all going to look and feel different. Have them practice wearing their masks little by little before school starts. Get really good at hand washing. Explain why we’re doing these things. We at school want your kiddos to know that everything we are doing is to make school as safe as it can possibly be for both them and for us. And do your very best to be excited with them for school starting, even if you have to fake it.

And if you hear nothing else, please hear this: Teachers, principals, counselors, secretaries, and other employees love your kids.

If we didn’t, there would be no reason to show up to schools and classrooms this year. Because no matter how much we have to improvise and reinvent and change things again and again, teachers love what we do. For most, it is a calling more than it is a profession. So think not just of your kids, but also of the teachers and school employees who will be showing up every weekday no matter the personal risk, to be there for your kids and your family. And we know you are taking a risk, too. We recognize as teachers, the immense trust you have to put in us as we guide your children safely through the day, because sending a piece of your heart to school right now, is in fact, scary. All of this. It. Is. Scary. But we are here in these trenches with one another and we are so much better TOGETHER.

Everything before us is going to require collaboration, grace, caring, and understanding.

Let’s all do our very best to think before we speak, to not jump to conclusions, to empathize, and try to see where others are coming from.

Maybe most of all, let’s remember that this way of doing things is not forever. But it is for right now. That is a fact. And all of it is HARD. Let’s acknowledge that, and move forward the very best that we can.

Your kids are resilient. We as human beings are resilient.

I promise you that we CAN do hard things like this, together.

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page

Kristin Gierke Knott

Kristin is a wife and teacher, turned stay-at-home-mom to 3, turned substitute teacher, now that her youngest is in kindergarten. She loves sharing encouragement and faith with other mamas and their families through her work as a Children's Ministry Director at her church. She also loves her cats, chocolate and being outside with her kids once Nebraska recovers from winters.