February 2021 - Chris Patricca

February 2021 - Chris Patricca
Posted on 02/25/2021
February 2021 - Chris Patricca

The year 2020 began like other years for many of us as we got back into the swing of things after our holiday break. In February, we began to see the headlines: “Confirmed coronavirus cases in all China regions,” “Coronavirus: Venice Carnival closes as Italy imposes lockdown,” and “South Korea on highest possible alert as coronavirus spreads.” These cases were so far away and many thought it would be a temporary problem for a few overseas countries. I don’t think any of us could have predicted what unfolded in the days, weeks, and long months that followed.
This worldwide pandemic and all that comes with is has become a part of our everyday vocabulary. Just one year ago, our children were not sent home from school to quarantine. Social distancing was a foreign concept. The CDC was not part of our collective consciousness. Masks were for Halloween.

It’s been a year since schools were closed across the US. Unfortunately, many schools across the nation remain closed. Other school districts that are open only offer part time or “hybrid” face-to-face instruction. But, in Lee County, schools have offered in-person instruction for the entirety of this school year. This commitment was made at the state level and embraced locally.

Failure is not an option for the teachers, students, staff, and families in the School District of Lee County. Through community partnerships and an unwavering commitment to putting students first, what Lee County has accomplished – collectively – is nothing short of remarkable.

But, the school year is just a bit more than halfway done. COVID fatigue has taken hold. We are all tired of wearing masks, social distancing, quarantines, Zoom classrooms, and virtual meetings. One of my children has been quarantined three times already! The disruption this causes for her academic progression, her athletic pursuits, and her social/emotional well-being is evident and it increases with each new quarantine. I remind her that these safety measures are necessary to keep her classmates and teachers safe and that we knew quarantines were a risk we took when we chose to return to face to face instruction. But, the impact on her is real and it is very, very hard.

As I help my own children through these times, I reflect on the fact that our school and district staff are all dealing with the reality of COVID in their own households while working incredibly hard to provide safe, productive learning environments for all of our children. They are experiencing the pressures we all feel while trying to ease the burdens that our students bring to school with them each day.

It has been all hands-on deck in this District since the pandemic started and, despite unprecedent working conditions, this will continue through the completion of the school year. If you are so inclined, please find opportunities to recognize our staff. Thank a teacher, a custodian, a bus driver, a school nurse, a principal or an administrator. Take the time to find the positive in our schools and recognize it. 

All hands-on deck includes parents, guardians, neighbors, friends. All hands-on deck means the entire community. Because of a strong partnership with Lee Health and the Lee County Division of the Florida Department of Health, transmission rates in our schools are minimal. We ask for your patience and continued support as we finish this school year strong. Collectively, we have the ability to turn the ominous and often tragic COVID headlines into positive historical perspectives of how Lee County tackled this pandemic and emerged stronger and more unified. After all, we are #StrongerTogether.

Chris Patricca
Lee County School Board Member, District 3