This is a weekend where we as a country celebrate Labor Day. For many of us it is the time where we end our summer and begin the school year. It feels like some kind of a new beginning when our students return to school as they anticipate another school year.
We also must acknowledge the uniqueness of this Labor Day. One year ago we were in the heat of COVID-19. Many individuals had been out of work and our labor force had gone stagnant. Our students were still struggling with recovery of their personal and academic lives that had been ravaged by the pandemic. We had a difficult time going back to work and many changed their lives to work from home.
It was difficult to assume the risk of vacation or to go to work or to school. Our unemployment rate was high and our supply delays caused prices to rise in many industries. We saw a huge decline in the delivery of new cars due to the shortage of micro-chips. It was a time of instability and we had a hard time celebrating the end of summer or much else.
In one sense we have a lot to be thankful for this Labor Day. Our labor force is back to work. Schools are open. Vacations are plentiful and we had a summer of normalcy. A new vaccine has been released for the BA-5 variant and we are slowly slipping back into a normal lifestyle again. Labor Day is a day where we celebrate our history of labor back to the 1880’s and it is something that has brought our country prosperity, job stability and so much more. Once again that optimism has a chance to be renewed.
I recognize that we are not recovered from COVID entirely. I just read a research project that published the results of current Math and Science testing scores for a group of 9th graders. They found that the students tested regressed to the year 1999 test scores. That is a 22-year regression that is quite serious. These are students that missed 6th to 8th grades in real time and were forced to learn online from home.
Workplaces have changed as well as many of our homes have. However, these difficulties provide us opportunities to make changes in our lives and in our systems of care. It appears we still have a lot of labor to do but it is encouraging that we are now positioned to recoup some of what was lost and put in place new ideas and solutions that will bring healing, hope and progressive change.
As we end this summer and signal our next season of growth, we need to acknowledge our losses and continue to move forward with new ways to overcome the obstacles that we have experienced as a result of the pandemic. There is so much we can do to help each other and now is a great time to begin.
I hope you and your family had a great Labor Day holiday. I also hope this will be a time of new beginnings as we work together for growth and positive change.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO