by Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
District Superintendent, Questar III BOCES

The start of a new calendar year is a time to reflect and look ahead – and an opportunity to make a promise to change or improve oneself. Have you done it yet?

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, about half of the country makes a New Year’s resolution in any given year – and nearly half of them give up within a month. While weight loss or fitness may be what first comes to mind, many resolutions relate to self-improvement or education.

This year is an opportune time to think about the importance of courtesy, respect, and empathy after a long, difficult, and contentious year. We have different opinions, experiences, and backgrounds, but our community and country are better for it.

As I look ahead to the next 12 months, I am hopeful for a New Year that is safer, heathier, and more interactive than 2020. We need to continue to be mindful of the COVID-19 protocols and patient as we await vaccinations.

While COVID-19 has undoubtedly taken a toll on public health, the economy, and our everyday lives, remember 2021 is full of promise. Let us make and fulfill resolutions like never in our lives. Considering these what-ifs can make us sad, but they can also provide us with something to look forward to at a time when we really need it.

Some New Year’s resolutions may be simple while others may be quite profound. Some may be short-term while others may be longer-term items that help lift us out of the temporary bubbles we have created. A resolution may touch different senses, from the smells of a cookout with neighbors to the sights and sounds of a playground or stadium filled with people again.

A resolution may be…

  • hugging a friend or loved one again – just think how good and how long that first hug will be with others.
  • returning to a daily routine, like meeting friends or going out for coffee.
  • petting a neighbor’s dog while on a walk or moving towards them to say hello rather than away to observe physical distance – something that speaks to spontaneity of life before COVID-19.
  • taking a much-needed vacation or planning a family reunion.
  • attending concerts, plays, sporting events, dinners, fundraisers, and other gatherings without worry or needing to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
  • enjoying simple face-to-face communications and getting a true sense of the human connection through full facial expressions or body language.
  • traditional items like healthier eating, exercising, getting organized or tackling a home improvement project.
  • keeping an eye on you or your loved one’s health, both physically and mentally.
  • doing something that you have put off – and not waiting anymore because life is too short and precious.

In our schools, we are resolute to return to operations, activities and interactions that truly bring people together again. COVID-19 has impacted every part of our operations, from instruction and transportation to activities involving large groups or the public. Schools were not designed for COVID-19, but our students, staff and families have done a wonderful job of following the protocols to stay safe and to keep our buildings open.

As I write this, I feel nostalgic for life’s little moments prior to COVID-19 – we took so much for granted – and I look forward to reclaiming them in the months ahead. It is therapeutic to make a list of all the things you want to do when the pandemic is controlled and truly over. What is on your post-COVID bucket list? It is essential for us to follow-through on these hopes, dreams, and aspirations.

Please continue to do your part to limit the spread of COVID-19 and spread a sense of optimism and hope in our lives post pandemic. We need them both. Have a happy and safe 2021.

This column appeared in the Register Star / Daily Mail newspapers on January 13, 2021. 

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