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Hard Pandemic Lessons From The Stolen Year
At Forbes, I’m taking a look at Anya Kamenetz’s book about the pandemic.
In The Stolen Year, NPR education reporter Anya Kamenetz doesn’t definitively answer the question, “Who stole it?” But she is absolutely clear on who the year was stolen from.
Early on in the book, Kamenetz quotes Rebecca Winthrop, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute and expert on education in crisis situations. “Amazingly,” Winthrop observes, “kids are pretty resilient. But you have to find ways to give them two things.”
[First], a normal sense of routine. It doesn’t have to be the exact replica of schooling, but if you give them a normal sense of routine with enough activities throughout the day, it really helps reduce their anxiety and supports their overall psychosocial well-being.
The other thing you need to do is really find deep ways of supporting kids’ caregivers, their parents, and their teachers. Often people forget until halfway through the emergency response that parents and teachers are also affected by the crisis and they’re dealing with their own multitude of problems.
“During COVID,” Kamenetz writes, “the United States didn’t do either.”
The book is unflinching in looking at how “the crisis exposed fault lines that run to the core.” Hindsight is already allowing folks to pretend that there were simple, clear answers. The book’s chronological approach reminds the reader just difficult it was at the time, in an atmosphere charged with too much politics and too little information, to choose from among a small menu of options that were all bad.