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    ‘Back to school blues’: Transitioning from virtual studies

    by Tianna G. Hansen

    Reflecting back on the short column I wrote for last year’s August issue, there was a lot of uncertainty around the back to school season. Most districts came up with multi-level plans for potential reopening, and we as a society were hunkered down, prepared really for anything. (Aliens, was my next best guess).

    So to look back now is somewhat refreshing, and a bit of victory: a shared tale of survival, and all that we have endured as a community. Remembrance of the lives lost, those who have not come out of this pandemic, and those who are still battling for their lives close to home and in other countries.

    It’s a time when we know one thing is for certain: students are, largely, heading back to school in-person, preparing dorm rooms in college and getting back to seeing each other beyond a virtual screen.

    No matter what, there will be a transition period. We can’t seamlessly go back to the way things were – and perhaps we will never quite be there again. But we have battle scars.

    Earlier this summer, I traveled to see my grandparents in Indiana for the first time in nearly three years; for Father’s Day, my sister and I took our dad out to eat in celebration; we embraced each other without shying away and a friendly stranger took my phone to snap a photo of us together, commenting on the strangeness of it: “We’re finally at the point now, I think,” she said, “where we don’t feel weird about touching other peoples’ things.”

    It felt wonderful that she was able to offer, and I able to accept. This small gesture in itself seemed to signify a transition back to socialization and civilization as a whole.

    We can come together again with less fear and more hope.

    Welcome back to school, students and teachers, and may all of you who are vaccinated enjoy heart-warming reunions with family, friends, and loved ones as a community.

    Stay safe, stay well, and stay grateful.

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