Good Riddance, 2020-2021 Pandemic School Year: Thanks for Everything


The 2020-2021 school year is coming to an end this month—and thus endeth the second weirdest school year ever (second only, of course, to the 2019-2020 school year which granted us the longest spring break EVER).

So what happened this year?

  • District calendar changes 
  • Remote learning
  • Hybrid learning
  • In person learning
  • Probably some remote learning part deux 
  • In person learning again

I’m literally exhausted just remembering it all. This year wasn’t my favorite by any means, and probably no one else’s “best year ever,” as a parent either. But, amid the chaos, constant change, and inevitable worry that is “pandemic parenting,” my girls and I ended up finding some joy. 

So while there are many things about this past school year I absolutely, no how-no way, without question will not miss, keep reading for a few of the things I loved about this year.



Growing independence

My second grader went from needing me literally by her side during every live session of remote learning to going the whole day without needing anything from me other than mac and cheese promptly at 10:40.* 

*Digression: WHY ARE KIDS EATING LUNCH AT 10:40???

During breaks, my sweet girl would immediately seek out her little sister for some play time or she’d snuggle down onto the couch with a book. She finished homework right away so she could go outside and play with hardly as much as a reminder from me.  

Increased flexibility

I’m a planner. My husband’s a planner. My dog is usually a planner (e.g. she plans to have medical issues at the least opportune times). My kid is definitely a planner. This year we all had to learn to go with the flow a little bit more than this type-A family was comfortable with. 

We found out after 8:00 p.m. the day before school was supposed to restart after winter break that it wasn’t going to restart in person. That’s some last-minute shenanigans right there. 

I had prepped my second grader with both possibilities and we rolled with it once we got the announcement from the district. I recognize the privilege it is that we had the ability to be so loosey-goosey about this without the concern about last-minute child care, but this is just one of the examples of how our normally structured selves found acceptance of “the unknown” this year.

Lessons in compassion and kindness 

I don’t know where each reader stands on masks versus no-masks. I’m decidedly in the “mask as long as we might need to” camp simply because I’d rather err on the side of caution, and that’s how our family approached the masks-in-schools conversation.

Inconvenient? Yes. 

Physically uncomfortable? At least at first. 

Without question the best way we can help our community stay safe with little to no effort on our part? Yes, yes and yes. 

When my kids asked why, we reminded them because it was the kind thing to do for our community.  

Outdoor play

What do you do with two kids with energy to burn and few or no opportunities for them to burn it all safely indoors? You kick their heinies outside. 

In late April of last year, we added a swing set structure to our backyard. It has more than paid for itself in the currency of my sanity. The kids swing, flip over rings, go down the slide, play in the fort, and play restaurant at the window. 

Over the course of the school year, we added new yard activities like a soccer/basketball set and a new water table and I swear, if there was ever a question about whether we have a “kid house” or a “grown-up house,” the answer is no longer even kind of up for debate. Our backyard now provides hours of 1970s-style entertainment and  

I’m not going to sugar coat this statement: sending my kid to school with a mask on, all the physical limitations on normal fun that are in place for her safety, not being able to volunteer in her class, treating her school clothes like bio-hazardous material once she walked in the door, it all sucked. It’s so far from what feels fun and lovely and free about childhood.  

But 2020-2021 school year, you did us a solid with some of the quiet lessons you shared with us. Solid A-/B+ effort.

*The views and opinions in this article are that of the writer and not necessarily that of East Valley Moms. We support ALL moms on their motherhood journey regardless of opinions on current events and politics.


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