Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

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By Dr. Susan Salcido, Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools

2020:  A year of downs, ups, backwards and sideways, to say the least.  The year was full of reality that seemed unimaginable at this time last year. Far too many friends, family members, and neighbors lost jobs and closed businesses, and a staggering number of individuals lost their lives.  The daily interactions we used to have, connecting us with people outside our homes, were distorted in major ways.

The weight of these nine months has been difficult to bear, and still, we are resilient. We adapt in admirable ways, and find light and silver linings—surprising brightness inside dark circumstances. 

The 2020 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Michele Franz, Orcutt Union School District, made this reflection on 2020: “The silver lining of this pandemic has definitely been how our busy lives have quieted down.  There has been more time to connect with my children, my husband and to reconnect with family and friends. The quiet has also allowed me time to seek new learning in all areas of my life—teaching, self-care, relationships, and more.”

Dr. Susan Salcido (courtesy photo)

When a year ends and a new one begins, we often look back to reflect on what has passed, and look to the new year with renewed resolve and optimism. This year, we all look forward to the time when the pandemic is safely behind us.  

In that spirit, we sought the help of students, teachers, and school staff from several school districts throughout Santa Barbara County.  We asked what silver linings have come from the pandemic, if any, and what they are looking forward to doing when the pandemic ends.  Here are some of the responses from Carpinteria Unified School District, College School District, Guadalupe Union School District, Los Olivos Elementary School District, Santa Barbara Unifed School District, and Vista Del Mar Union School District.

“I really like bouncing on my ball while working from home,” said Clara, a student at Vista Del Mar Union School District. “I really look forward to see[ing] my friends.  One of my favorite things is to ride the bus.”

College School District students also offered several silver linings and hopes for the new year:

“A silver lining for me during this pandemic has been that at school we have to wear masks and on cold days it keeps me warm,” said Mateo.  “One thing I would like to do when the pandemic is over is go to every place that was closed.  I would also like to rip my mask off, dig a hole, and never see it again.”

“I got a new puppy and he always makes me happy.  When I’m sad, my puppy is always there to put me in a good mood,”  Kristin shared.

“What I look forward to when the pandemic is over is getting to see my family!  I miss them so much and we haven’t seen each other in such a long time. I was supposed to go to Mexico this year to see my family but I can’t with the pandemic going on. But it’s ok, I can see them next year when this is all over,” wrote Stephanie.

“I look forward to going back to normal school.  I can’t wait to stop wearing masks and worrying about social distancing.  I want to play on the playground with my friends,” said Makyla.

Carpinteria High School student Dianna said a silver lining for her has been “getting to be home to take care of my younger siblings and getting to spend lots of quality time all together as a family.”

Teachers and school staff shared similar sentiments and are looking forward to being together with their students in the classroom. 

Said 2021 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, Frank Koroshec, Santa Barbara Unified School District, “We now recognize more than ever how important our connection is with each of our students. I am very much looking forward to being reunited with my students to celebrate their accomplishments in person.”

Many teachers praised the skills their students displayed during this challenging year. “I have marveled at the problem-solving skills that students have equipped themselves with during online learning. They are often teaching me computer shortcuts and tricks. Their ability to troubleshoot issues has been encouraging,”  said Jen, an instructional assistant in Carpinteria Unified School District.

“As a teacher, I look forward to having all of my students back in the classroom and engaging with them in person each day. Their positive energy and upbeat personalities are contagious, and being exposed to that every day is a big part of why I enjoy teaching so much,” shared Anthony, College School District.

 “What I am most looking forward to is welcoming my students with a big hug each day as they come in the front door.  And sharing a read-aloud without a mask!” said Heather from Los Olivos Elementary School District.

Carpinteria Unified School District teacher Amber said, “I am really looking forward to being able to give my students a real high five for all of the hard work.  They have worked so hard, accomplished so much, and they have a really positive attitude about everything.  I am so very proud of them all.”

“Social distancing has been very difficult because of the need for human connection.  But it has also made me look for different creative ways of expressing kindness, patience, and compassion,” said Dolores, office manager, Guadalupe Union School District.

It seems that most, if not all of us, deeply miss in-person experiences with friends and extended family.  However, as Dolores reminded us, it is the kindness, patience, and compassion of others that serve as a true light in this dark time. 

Thank you to the students, educators, and staff for sharing examples of silver linings, and for helping to articulate our collective hope for a very happy, healthy, and fulfilling new year for all.

Do you have an opinion on something local? Share it with us at [email protected] The views and opinions expressed in Op-Ed articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of edhat.

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a-1609623484 Jan 02, 2021 01:38 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Rate of transmission in the community must be taken into account when opening schools. Because of behavioral problems in our community, transmission rates are high.

From the CDC school guidelines:

Children and COVID-19
In general, children with COVID-19 are less likely to have severe symptoms than adults or experience an asymptomatic infection – meaning they do not have any signs or symptoms of disease (1-7).

Analysis of pediatric COVID-19 hospitalization data from 14 states from early March to late July 2020 found the cumulative rate of COVID-19–associated hospitalization among children was over 20 times lower compared to adults (8.0 versus 164.5 per 100,000 population) (8). Although the cumulative rate is low, one in three children hospitalized with COVID-19 was admitted to an intensive care unit so the risk is not negligible (8). Similarly, the death rate among school-aged children is much lower than the rate among adults (9, 10). Also, the comparatively low risk for hospitalization and death among children themselves must be contextualized to the risk posed to teachers, school administrators, and other staff in the school environment. The risk of teachers, school administrators, and other staff in the school is expected to mirror that of other adults in the community if they contract COVID-19.

To be sure, the best available evidence from countries that have reopened schools indicates that COVID-19 poses low risks to school-aged children – at least in areas with low community transmission. That said, the body of evidence is growing that children of all ages are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection (3-7) and, contrary to early reports (11, 12), might play a role in transmission (7, 13, 14).

dukemunson Jan 03, 2021 07:50 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

10:23pm - That direct link to the “Covid Monitor” is a joke... right? They have no government data or ties....they are “creating” numbers via teacher and student emailed numbers. Here’s the direct line from their website:

“By submitting information about cases through our safe and 100% anonymous form, parents, teachers and even students keep us and each other up-to-date with the latest information available.”

Seriously?!??! Stop denying science with crazy fringe misinformation. This is a website Made by a couple of teachers back East that appears to basically just be making up numbers.

Again, kids (and by obvious extension students) can get COVID... but by having a safe monitored daily outlet we can actually minimize transmission. This has successfully been implemented around the world... and in SB! No school based outbreaks in the thousands of kids over dozens of schools in session in town right now!

dukemunson Jan 02, 2021 02:13 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

In essence you are choosing the current chaos and hodgepodge of neighbors, camps and Kids just wandering around to a supervised setting. You aren’t seeing spread at any of the dozens of local schools open... its from gatherings. And not just holiday gatherings... it’s the daily gatherings of kids who would normally be at school with supervision. You (along with the school board and teachers union) are making a choice to make things worse and less safe... thanks!

dukemunson Jan 02, 2021 01:43 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Kids can and do get it. You you are right about that! You do however have the opening of schools completely backwards! As per the cdc and public health, there is less transmission with school in person than out!! IN essence, having remote school is adding to our transmission in the county!! Having schools closed is making all of us less safe!!

NostraChumash Jan 02, 2021 09:23 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

There was a time before american, western academia existed..
During that time, pyramids were built..
Aquaducts & starmaps created..
Medicine, the arts, philosophy, ad infinitum..
Then humans became stupid.
The job of "teaching" falls upon the shoulders of those who decide to have children.

a-1609648926 Jan 02, 2021 08:42 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Yes, 1:40, health care has progressed, as have many useful technologies. But Nostra is right to remind us that knowledge and wisdom existed before and and can be found beyond our current educational system.

a-1609565357 Jan 01, 2021 09:29 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

No one knows what is best, as it is a NOVEL virus and everyone, globally, is scrambling to deal with it. It seems to me that many other countries do better because they have more community cohesiveness and buy-in to do what's necessary to control transmission.

Better decisions could've been made, but we did not have the information with which to make them.

And EVERY decision made by national, state and county would and will be criticized.
Sounds like discussion of moderation on Edhat.

So so tired of never-ending and never-solved problems of life... How do we humans keep going. We are amazing.

dukemunson Jan 02, 2021 09:13 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

TJ - taken together... it does seem pretty cut and dry to me. If we aren’t making matters safer (and are In fact perhaps even making things less safe), what possible justification is there for keeping schools closed? Tests scores are wildly down and obviously everyone is struggling. Add in the potential fact that’s it’s less safe... what rational justifies closure?

dukemunson Jan 02, 2021 09:01 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

I quoted that very article yesterday! The most notable part of it (to me) was:

“Schools play an important role in children’s educational achievement, health, and wellbeing. Working with state, tribal, local, and territorial health officials, schools can also play an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that children have a safe and healthy learning environment.”

Thomas John Jan 02, 2021 08:53 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Duke, I hear many of your points but I don't think the decision process about in-perso school is as cut and dry as you're making it seem. This is from the CDC yesterday

dukemunson Jan 02, 2021 08:19 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

The funny thing is though... we might not know the best answer/solution, but we truly and definitively know the worst: EXACTLY WHAT THE SCHOOL BOARD DID!!! Waste millions of dollars on a worse education that made everyone’s life worse and everyone’s life less safe! So yeah... we don’t alway know the best path... but the school districts did every single thing wrong!!! Definitively! Again.. schools restarted elsewhere as they realized it was safer... having kids in school helps slow the spread! It took till 5 days ago for governor newsome to realize that and change the criteria And make it easier for schools to reopen. Dr Fauci is pleading for schools to open as well. All you keep schools closed people are hiding from science to the detriment of us all!

sblocal1967 Jan 01, 2021 08:32 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

I have completely lost respect for Santa Barbara County public school administrators and teachers who hide behind their self serving unions. Teachers need to get the vaccine and their butts back in school so that kids can get in person learning, socialization and athletics. Shame on all of you. If you don't want to go back to work, then fine - stop taking a paycheck. And to the two teachers who were eating at a restaurant (prior to them being shut down) talking to each other about how they love staying home and laughing at how easy their Covid lives are - you both are embarrassments to your teaching profession. There are front line health care workers who are doing their jobs day in day out while their kids suffer because spineless teachers and administrators have zero accountability. Private schools can figure it out because if they don't, then no one is getting paid. Funny how money is a simple motivator. 90+% of people who are adversely affected from Covid are elderly and unhealty people. So if you are a teacher who falls into this category, then we should just pay you to stay at home. Else get back to work!!! Wear a mask and social distance like any other person who goes to work each day. "Dr" Susan your words are meaningless.

Seabird Jan 03, 2021 05:47 AM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

@8:57pm, they are not working harder. In person, they had to show up at 7-7:30am, conduct classroom learning until 3:30pm, stay on campus for at least another hour, not to mention the after hours work. Virtual learning end between 12:30-1:30pm for almost all of the schools I know of. It's a joke.

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 09:21 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

But good job everyone re-electing the school board! They took millions of dollars to reopen and then... didn’t! I guess all Of our kids are failing/struggling together so they all became less educated together... so we got that going for us... which is nice! Sure would have been nice though to have Had 3.5 months of school this fall like all the private schools... and ya know... school on Monday... like all the private schools... and public school that teaches admins and teachers kids...

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 09:19 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

But good job everyone re-electing the school board! They took millions of dollars to reopen and then... didn’t! I guys all our kids are failing/struggling together so they all became less educated together... but what a disaster! Sure would have been nice to have Had 3.5 months of school this fall like all the private schools... and school on Monday...

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 09:09 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

No, they really really aren’t working harder! And, as per public health, HAving kids out of school is less safe. So the teachers are the only winners here! Their job is easier and takes less time. Everyone else... kids aren’t learning, parents are struggling to work and COVID is spreading faster/easier. Thanks teachers union and the school board .. you have made the world (and Sb!) a worse place!

a-1609563456 Jan 01, 2021 08:57 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Teachers are working much harder right now trying to develop and apply distance learning while dealing with the complexities of remote management of the children, not to mention their ungrateful parents.

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 05:39 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

And by medical community, do you mean Public Health...?

Below is the notable quote, but uhh... it’s weird that you are so certain that the teachers are actually listening to the medical community. (Since they obviously aren’t).

"“I come to you with data that I didn’t know until this morning and I wouldn’t know until ahead of time,” said Susan Klein-Rothschild with the Public Health Department. Klein-Rothschild was referring to the unpredictable turns of the pandemic and that recent data shows it is safe to open schools and that students are more likely to follow guidelines in school than out of school with friends.

And from what little has played out in Santa Barbara Unified so far, it appears true. There has been no COVID-19 transmission on any campus since small cohorts and athletics have been allowed to resume in person"

Basicinfo805 Jan 01, 2021 04:23 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Call me cynical, but save it Susan - the teachers and districts have really let kids down this year. It was doable, and they didn't have the will to do it. Great lesson for our kids.

a-1609541579 Jan 01, 2021 02:52 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

From a study of the latest, more infectious virus variant by the medical group at Imperial College, London:

"Available SGTF data indicate a shift in the age composition of reported cases, with a larger share of under 20 year olds among reported VOC than non-VOC cases."

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 06:30 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

Here’s the local public health statement:

Also (As per the CDC:) “Working with state, tribal, local, and territorial health officials, schools can also play an important role in slowing the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring that children have a safe and healthy learning environment.“

In essence, as we see... kids are out and Continues. In school though Kids are washing hands, Distancing and being monitored to the point that it’s a safer environment.

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 05:42 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

So... you are completely wrong. Which is ok... and funny how confidently wrong you are! The science says we’d be safer with kids in school. Considering where current grades are with kids (they are all Cali g behind) and how having kids out of school is making everyone’s life worse... all the teachers accomplished this year was cash checks and MAKE SB WORSE, LESS INTELLIGENT AND LESS SAFE!

a-1609550502 Jan 01, 2021 05:21 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

poppycock, duke. The schools did the right thing to keep the kids in a steady mode rather than opening schools and then closing/opening/closing/opening. They did that back East and now that numbers are quickly rising, they are shutting down for the foreseeable future. Too many teachers and student groups have to quarantine. SB county, Just be patient. Fortunately, the school leaders are listening to the medical community, as they should.

dukemunson Jan 01, 2021 04:41 PM
Students and Educators Share Hopes for 2021

As per public health, it would be be safer and we’d have less cases if school were in session. We shut down schools and kept them closed and we literally all are worse off for it...

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