Letter from the President, October 2020

I can’t believe it is October already. When I reflect on the fall season, I always think about back to school. This year has been unique. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our daily lives upside down. Like many of you, my children stopped attending school in person abruptly last spring. Our school district didn’t have a plan for four weeks. I found myself creating lesson plans, buying workbooks from Amazon, scouring Pinterest for online learning options.  We settled into a routine with reading and math, found enjoyment tuning in to daily safaris with the Cincinnati Zoo, followed along with online art classes with Booth Western Art Museum, learned about science from Smithsonian Natural History Museum, and spent quality family time playing board games.  

Over the next six months my children wondered and hoped to return to school in person in the fall. My family lives in Fairfax County just outside of Washington, DC and we send our children to public school. Did you know Fairfax County Public Schools has 189,000 students, placing in the top 10 largest school districts in the United States? That’s a lot of students to be responsible for. Fairfax County spent the summer revamping their online instruction and the teachers put in countless hours training and reworking lesson plans to fit the needs of teaching students virtually.  

We are now one month into the current school year. We are 100% online, with no timeline to return to in person. I am impressed with how well the school year is going. We now have designated spaces for schoolwork and the schools provided laptops, which means I do not have to share my laptop and my office with the kids! My children are engaged online with teachers and their classmates, they are learning new material, working on projects and studying hard. One of the hardest aspects of virtual learning is the lack of social connections.  My children miss their friends: we try to find creative ways to stay in touch.  

October 5 was World Teachers’ Day.  I know many family members in the Foreign Service are in the education field. I want to say thank you for teaching our children, especially during a pandemic.  

I’d love to hear more from our members. What is back to school like for you?

I remain hopeful that this is just a small detour to daily life.

Stay healthy,