The primary role of Pueblo School District 60 is to educate our community’s children. But D60 also provides a broader social and economic benefit for individuals, families and our community at large.

During these unprecedented and challenging times in the shadow of the COVID-19 global pandemic, we are all reminded of the how public education influences us, both in the fabric of our daily lives and the welfare of our entire community.

In both my personal and professional life, I have weathered many storms and, in large part, I consider myself to be strong, self assured and not easily shaken. However, the news of the governor’s order to shutter our schools and suspend all in-person instruction through at least April 17 brought profound and overwhelming emotion and sadness.

My heart is absolutely broken for our students and families who will miss not only quality instruction, but in addition, they will miss once-in-a-lifetime memory-making moments such as performing the lead role in a play, competing in sporting events and academic competitions, traveling out of state and internationally, as well as the social emotional relationships and friendships that are nurtured and interconnected within the school setting.

I am so very proud, humbled and in awe of our employees who are going above and beyond to meet the needs of others. We should take comfort in knowing that all are stepping up to do their part, from our custodial and maintenance staff, nutrition services staff, administrators, teachers, counselors, technology and support staff and many others.

In times of crisis, we are finding ways to collaborate and work together to find innovative ways to solve complex problems and serve others.

D60 had the foresight to plan for and prepare a digital learning plan as we watched the pandemic developing across the world. It is because of this preparation that our students will be better served.

Our educators will soon embark on a new journey of providing instruction digitally via online learning. With little advance notice, our teachers engaged in professional development and lesson planning as they prepared for and set up virtual classrooms.

We have become proficient with holding virtual meetings and learning new and innovative ways to do business. Our educators, administrators and support staff are among the best, and I have full confidence they are ready for the challenge that lies ahead.

As you know, our governor issued a stay-at-home executive order for our entire state. It is critically important that we each do our part as we follow the directives of this order, including limiting contact with others outside our immediate households, practicing social distancing and strictly adhering to the stay-at-home order by limiting outings to only essential tasks.

We must be responsible for our actions and all do our part in protecting and caring for others.

At the end of this crisis, there will be many valuable lessons learned. But perhaps the greatest lesson is that we come to fully realize that as humans, we have a fundamental need for belonging and connecting to others.

This need cannot be fully satisfied virtually. We can never replace the sense of belonging that comes with participating together in this journey called life.

In times like these, our community values are tested. When faced with fear, it is easy to turn our focus inward toward self-preservation.

However, that has not been the case in Pueblo. In fact, in our wonderful city, I have witnessed just the opposite. I see community agencies reaching out and stepping forward to work together.

We must continue to be united and support each other with compassion, grace and love as we navigate this global heath pandemic.

D60 is committed to continuing to support our families and the community of Pueblo. We don’t know how long it will take us before we can return to the classroom, but we are committed to doing everything we can to support our students and their families as we all address these challenges together.

It is with great anticipation that we all await the day we get to see our students and staff reunited again.

Charlotte Macaluso is the superintendent of Pueblo School District 60.