1) The value of social interactions of kids (5th Grade and 7th grade in particular) are of insurmountable value. The norms kids learn and how to 'be nice' or 'work with' others when in person were lost for those students, and I think every director/teacher/principal I've spoken with has seen the same things. Our now 7th and 9th graders are by far universally the most challenging students to work with for discipline.
2) Teaching students remotely successfully is only a possibility with the top 5-10% of kids, when they have supportive parents. The lower in the socioeconomic status a family is, the far greater chance they disappeared off the face of the planet.
3) We should be cognizant of future viral outbreaks and our potential role in the spread of them. We did bell covers and slitted masks in 2020-2021, and I can say fairly certainly that we didn't spread in our rehearsals. Since masks weren't allowed I didn't move forward with them this year. I have no proof of in-class spread, because these kids are friends, but I definitely saw a good chunk of one row out one after another in January. At this point pretty much every person has exposure to a vaccine or an infection at this point, so at least it's not a truly 'novel' virus at this point. That being said who's to say in the future we won't have something equally as contagious, but more virulent? (Personally I'd like to think 1:100 years means we've had it, but Spanish Flu was followed by Polio, Smallpox, and Measles as major spreading bugs)
4) It is JUST band. Sometimes during the shutdown I was so stressed... But you have to remember that in the end you can only do what you can do. I think most of us have probably reevaluated a lot of our extra hours since everything has happened. Work will still be there when we get back the next day!
5) Relationships matter! I know for a fact that my engagement with some students helped them keep going. On the opposite side up until about January I honestly haven't felt that close relationship with my current seniors and juniors like I normally do. I think that last year even when we were in person, the natural reaction was to keep away from each other physically - which affected our emotional/musical relationships too.
Honestly, I will forever feel for the kids who are in the 2-20 bracket right now. The younger ones will move past things faster I think, but we have a whole generation that was upended in the past couple of years. Socially, Academically, and Musically I feel like there's a been a big stunting of growth. They are the most different generation we've had in the last 50-70 years.