Hope and gratitude in a pandemic

The news this week centered around the likelihood of a vaccine that demonstrates great promise for helping us beat this virus. For all of us, it can’t get here soon enough but the mere hope that it will be available should inspire us to continue to work hard. Because we know our staff have been working long and hard to make education work during the pandemic, we determined that taking off the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving is an opportunity for them to recalibrate, re-energize and return to complete the first semester as strongly as possible.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I thought it was a good time for me to reflect on what I am personally thankful for:

• For the staff, parents and students of LPS who have continued their commitment to ensure that education progresses. Despite formidable challenges, they have pushed forward and developed their own personal pandemic strategies for coping. These heroes will be remembered by many for years to come.
• For all of our district leaders who are working closely with staff, students and parents and trying to keep our schools as safe as possible under difficult conditions, not the least of which has been managing staff absences.
• For the leadership and support of our Board of Education, which has kept a singular focus on student and staff well- being despite a number of conflicting community views on many elements of the district pandemic plan. The responsibility that board members have for 50,000 students and staff drives their work to make sure we are striving to meet the needs of all.
• For the outstanding Executive Cabinet I am proud to work with each day and who have spent countless hours working on pandemic plans in addition to their normal responsibilities. They have done it selflessly 24-7 with maybe a coffee break or two.
• For the courageous leadership of our mayor, City Council and health department for making the really tough decisions aimed at keeping close to 300,000 residents as safe as possible.
• For our professional colleagues across the state and country who are battling the same challenges as we are in Lincoln. The support we are able to provide each other is therapeutic.

As we head into the holiday week, I want to implore each of our students and staff members to heed the safety protocols so we can drive case numbers down. Our ability to continue having in-person school and getting our athletics and activities back is directly related to the manner in which we each take on this responsibility.

Steve Joel