The world has changed. Let’s adapt to it.

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World changed

Remember January? It seems like it was years ago. Kids were grumbling as they returned to school after the holiday break. PTAs were planning for spring events and summer meetings. The movie rumors were abuzz around news of “A Quiet Place” and “Top Gun” sequels. Brexit was on the front page of the newspaper.

And then coronavirus arrived, and everything changed.

It’s rare that an event affects everyone in the civilized world, but the arrival of the COVID-19 virus was such a black swan. Schools shut down, work became remote (or went away entirely, for many), and social distancing became a common goal. Nearly overnight, toilet paper and hand sanitizer became hot commodities, and our kitchens once again became places where meals are prepared.

Even though we’re two months removed from the initial U.S. outbreak, it’s clear that things are not going to be the same for a while. Even though some have started to cautiously resume some activities, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on school, work, and social activities. This is especially true with our PTA involvement, since our activities include school, work, and social aspects. It’s safe to say that the work we’d normally do in late spring and summer to prepare for the next school year will have to be adapted to this new normal.

Let’s adapt

Most of us have already begun to evolve to a world with coronavirus. Board and membership meetings have gone remote. Teacher appreciation tokens were delivered via Amazon or a quick porch drop-off. Neighbors have been checking in on each other and generously helping those who are struggling. And while accepting the fact that we probably won’t be going back to school this year, we’re already thinking through how we’ll manage if schools are still closed in the fall.

As members and leaders in our local parent-teacher associations, we have the opportunity to set an example in these challenging times.

  • Do what we can to support the school faculty and staff, regardless of what school looks like in the fall. When others see us being positive and helping, they’ll be encouraged to do the same.
  • Show our kids a positive attitude. Reinforcing to them that success is more about how you adapt to a situation rather than the difficulty of that situation will help them to better prepare for challenges later in life.
  • Help others as we are able. Our neighbors and fellow volunteers may be facing difficulties with jobs, finances, mental health, or child care. Individually we can’t change the world, but for those who are able, we can make a big difference in one family’s life.
  • Ask for help if we need it. This is a very challenging thing to do; it’s common to worry that asking for help implies failure or weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth! Asking a trusted friend for help is a brave step, and as we’ve seen, there are many of our neighbors who are willing to step up.
  • Keep things as normal as possible. Send a note of thanks to your child’s teacher, even if you won’t get the chance to tell them personally. Hold to your normal PTA routines (including meeting and elections), because there will be even more of a need for this support system in the fall.

Fortunately, the stories of folks behaving badly have been few. We have an opportunity here to show what we’re made of by embracing and adapting to this change. We can’t control how COVID-19 (or the next crisis, or the one after that) will impact our lives, but we can and should commit to helping our neighbors while keeping our schools and communities moving forward.