To the Class of 2033

To the Class of 2033: 

Right now, you are five and six year olds. Your parents have been telling you about Kindergarten for months now, and the first day is finally here. It’s time to see for yourself what the big deal is. A new school, a new teacher, new classroom, new friends, new school supplies and a new normal. You’re excited, anxious, happy and scared all at once, but you know this is really a moment to be brave. Your parents and loved ones are being really brave too this year. 

In 13 years and nine months from now, we will be celebrating your high school graduations. You’ll probably hear ad nauseam how you were the class that started school during a pandemic, the youngest kids who had to wear masks in class, the group who persevered through disruptions and lots of changes. You won’t quite understand the significance of it all, because, to you, it was the only normal you knew. 

But it is a really big deal.  This country is asking a lot of you right now. We’re asking that you and your teachers lead the charge in returning normalcy to our daily lives. We’re asking you to go to school so parents and guardians can get back to a fully productive day of work. We’re asking you to keep away from your friends and wear masks all day so you don’t bring the virus home to us. And while you’re old enough to know about the Coronavirus and why we can’t go to stores and playdates and the movies and restaurants whenever we feel like it, you don’t really understand the risk you are taking for us. 

Your parents understand the risk, and we agonized over the decisions we had to make for weeks. We’ve heard that children under 10 are less likely to spread the virus, that cases in kids are mild at best, that mask ordinances are working and a vaccine is on the way.  We also know that this great experiment of going back to school could backfire at any point, but still some of us wanted to try and hope for the best. Whatever decision we made, we made it because it was the best one we could. The plans put in place by teachers, school admins and local leaders are solid, but they are not fool-proof. Though, we trust them enough to trust them with you.

We don’t know what the next 13 years will bring, but we do know that your class will rise and adapt to any challenge, because you’ve proved these past five months that you can, and you’re only five years old. Thank you for being brave for us, thank you for being kind to your teachers, and thank you for just being a wonderful you. Congratulations on reaching this huge milestone in your childhood. Nothing, not even a global pandemic, can take this excitement away from you.

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