The Upper School Club Fair held outdoors

Still in the woods but feeling new joy

When it comes to the pandemic, we know we’re still in the woods. Colorado Academy, like many schools across the country, continues to use a handful of trusted mitigation efforts to frustrate the spread of COVID-19 and keep our campus low-risk. While we don’t know when we’ll be out of the woods, there’s a new joy creeping into the 2021-2022 school year that we missed 18 months ago.

And it’s delightful.

The best way to describe it is that we’re feeling a little more breathing room today than we did yesterday. It’s hard to explain to those who aren’t in education the sheer amount of energy (and hours) teachers needed to dedicate to learning how to teach during a pandemic. Administrators needed to dedicate an equal amount of time to re-imagine the mechanics of running a school.

Looking back

At the classroom level, teachers adopted new software that mimicked whiteboards; the simple task of passing out graded tests suddenly required new tech-driven approaches. At the school-wide level, daily events like lunch went from routinized exercise we took for granted to near-theatrical productions, where we had to consider how to feed students at a six-foot distance in a room that had been designed for students sitting a foot apart.

To our credit, we learned how to do this, and our students were marvelous partners in this work—kids are always flexible and innovative in ways that can surprise even those of us who have spent our careers working and learning from them.

Looking ahead

And now, here we are, starting the 2021-2022 school year. The adaptations we made last year now (incredibly) feel normal to us, and other measures we needed to take on have been relaxed. As a result, some of the joy we once took for granted is starting to return, and some of the hours we spent re-imagining what we took for granted can now be spent re-building and innovating.

Walking through the campus today offers a testament to how things have changed, and how they’ve stayed the same. On Tuesday, we held our first in-person clubs fair of the year. The pandemic inspired us to move it outside, and to our surprise, hosting this event inspired new energy, as students used the expanded elbow room to introduce new games and mingle in new ways.

Those of us who’ve worked at schools know that this is how new traditions emerge. We’re excited to see how our spirit of necessity will change us for the better in the long run.