WARREN, Pa. – It’s been a year like no other in the Warren County School District.
Superintendent Amy Stewart, fellow administrators, teachers, and students have all had to deal with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. It brought about a number of obstacles, but, the WCSD has passed them all with flying colors.
“I’m very proud of how everyone did this year,” Stewart said. “We had our employees step up, our board step up, and we were able to provide school for kids that wanted to come in. It was very difficult and uncharted territory. Kudos to all my staff for continuing to come to work every day and provide education for these kids.”
Indeed, it was a job well done by all, but it obviously wasn’t without its stress, a good bit of it, to be sure.
“It was just really unforeseen,” Stewart said. “Just so many things that were so far beyond our control. So many people are mandating what we can or can’t do. To not hold school is unfathomable. To have that be in peril just created a stress level that is enormous. It’s stressful in every aspect.”
That stress level and the execution of the school district to have in-person classes was pulled off in large part because of the bond between Stewart and her administration, the school board and other leaders in the community, included but not limited to the Warren County commissioners and emergency personnel throughout the county.
It takes a village, and in this particular case, all parties worked together to pull off what not every school district was able to do.
“I said over and over again, we have a lot of things going for us,” Stewart said. “We have a great board that works great with our administration. We’re in sync, we have trusting relationships. I can’t even imagine if this had been my first year.
“We have dedicated staff and tremendous community relationships. In the beginning, we were working daily with the commissioners and emergency management. It took the whole community. If we had started with ground zero in trying to build those relationships, it would have been very different. It was natural for us to come together. It really did take everybody to make it happen and to make it work.”
And of course, there are the students, who had to adjust to a different type of learning environment and get used to wearing masks all day. They certainly adapted well, another reason this school year, while unlike any other, was able to be a successful one.
“Our little ones for the most part adjusted better than anyone,” Stewart said. “Our older kids, it was a struggle to keep masks on and to enforce those rules. But they did it diligently and did what they were supposed to do. It’s hard, it’s hard in the heat, with breathing issues. It’s just not something we’re used to.”
And now, with commencement ceremonies on the horizon this Friday, it marks the end of the traditional school year, but, as always, the WCSD will be operating programs the following Monday. The volume of students will be significantly lower, obviously.
And, while there’s really not much of a chance to take a deep breath, there is a sense of accomplishment among everyone in the district on a job well done in a year that no one is ever likely to forget.
“It’s been a challenge,” Stewart said. “Did we overcome it? We sure did.”