As the school year rapidly approaches and we reflect back upon the past five months, one thing sticks out quite clearly—childcare workers are essential. The upcoming school year will be challenging and, in large parts, unpredictable, but afterschool programs are essential to America's economic recovery. Many families will need extra help with a staggered school schedule so parents can return to work. They will need help with remote school requirements, assistance in catching up from lost learning, and support in reconnecting after months of isolation.
Our country will emerge from this pandemic in a different place, and that includes childcare. The landscape we once knew for afterschool, summer, and expanded learning will look vastly different than in pre-COVID times. But afterschool professionals have always been creative. We have to think on our feet when we get displaced from our program space at the last minute, and think creatively about how we will rearrange our program all in the few minutes before the children walk inside. I have no doubt that each of you is already thinking creatively about how to best support students and families this fall.
Afterschool professionals have stepped up during this time, providing virtual programming, checking in on families, distributing meals to families, staying open to serve children of essential workers, and more. You have all done amazing work throughout these troubling and uncertain times. I commend you for your efforts and for your resilience. Afterschool programs and professionals, such as yourself, are helping students catch up and keep up.
But through all of this, we recognize the incredible challenges you have faced, both personally and professionally. And we want you to know, we are here for you.
From all of us—thank you. Thank you for always being on the frontline. Thank you for never giving up. And thank you for being an essential worker.
Courtesy of NAA.
Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.