Like millions of Americans this Fourth of July, my wife and I punched our Disney Plus ticket so we could see Hamilton, and I was also able to watch Frozen at the touch of a button. How very much in today’s spirit of fear, I thought, as Elsa retreated from Anna because of a force she felt powerless to control; and how very much like Anna did I feel, before her sister’s coronation, running around my empty school singing about throwing open the doors since what seems like a lifetime.  

Of course, we learn that Elsa can control her power, and that throwing the doors open can bring imposters and threats as much as treasured communion. So, needless to say, I like the movie; and allow me to say, I like what the story offers us right now.

Like Elsa, we can control our power. Our limited size and shorter operating hours, our teacher dedication and parental cooperation allow us to secure our campus reality in a way larger schools of older children cannot. Our children need each other and their teachers in ways we understand now more than ever — and for that to happen, we need our families working with teachers in an unbreakable accord that keeps each other healthy and safe. Like Elsa in the story, we all have a tremendous gift; in our case, it is helping others by being careful and thoughtful about our germs at every turn — and in so doing, we practice the greatest power of all: to act out of love.

Like Anna, our kids need to emerge from isolation. Our teachers know what experts continue to rediscover: that kids need to play socially, regularly to grow well. For this to happen, we all must be united like never before. Our doors cannot be safely opened willy-nilly, but must be carefully monitored and controlled. We will keep the “Community” in Decatur Presbyterian Children’s — but every day in 2020-21 will start with teachers in gloves holding infrared thermometers, in gowns but with smiling eyes above facemasks. Many things we are very used to doing freely and quickly must be staggered, and will take excessive amounts of time every day: carpool, bathroom, playground, even class travel down the hall. The access parents have naturally enjoyed in our building cannot happen this year. These dramatic adjustments amount to nothing less than The Great Slowdown — but our kids are worth it, and so is our community.