As an adult, I know it’s not safe, so the plans are on pause. But it’s still hard to say no because she and so many of her peers are deserving of those experiences. They’ve missed proms, pep rallies and school dances. Those are coming-of-age events that we can’t authentically recreate virtually.

If asked if there was anything positive that came out of this experience, I would have to say that it pushed district officials to integrate technology to all students in a more equitable fashion. For years, certain more prioritized schools in the district have had computers for every student, while others did not. Although this has been a well-documented issue, the pandemic forced the hand of decision-makers to fix it immediately.

Hopefully we’ll work together to continue to address similar equity matters with the same degree of urgency when we close the door on the pandemic. This is much bigger than computers.

I look forward to the day when we can return safely to our schools. Buildings are just brick and mortar without children. Their silliness keeps us centered and helps us recover after hard days. Their light lifts our spirits and has a way of sustaining our resolve. I imagine that every student, educator and partner will return to our buildings with a renewed sense of purpose, appreciation and perspective as we come closer to the end of this chapter in our lives. I can’t wait!

Sean Means is a teacher at Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy K-12 and a partner teacher with the Justice Scholars Institute at the University of Pittsburgh. If you want to send a message to Sean, email firstperson@publicsource.org.