Addressing children with fears about returning to school amid the pandemic, Santelises offered, “It’s okay to be a little scared. I think all of us are scared from time to time, but we are working to make sure that you are as safe as possible, and I bet when you see some of your friends at a distance, some of that fear will go away.”
And living up to the special’s title, Big Bird, Elmo and Abby Cadabby, joined by Hill and Gupta, sang a song that spelled out just what kids should be doing in this moment to keep themselves and others safe and healthy.
“‘C’ means cover/cover your face/wear a mask in a public place,” they sang. “‘A’ is for apart/Be smart and stay six feet apart/’R,’ that’s remember/Remember to wash your hands throughout the day/Before you eat or after you play/’E” is for everyone/Everyone has a job to do/To help others and be healthy too/Because like birds of a feather/We’re in this together/To help one another and care/Care, care for each other.”
Created in the late ’60s by Joan Ganz Cooney and Lloyd Morrisett, Sesame Street began with the primary goal of preparing young children, especially those from lower-income families who couldn’t afford preschool, to attend school. Along the way, it became a place where kids could not only learn their ABCs, but the importance of sharing, kindness, and other “social” skills.
Throughout its half-century existence on PBS and, more recently, HBO and HBO Max, the show has also proven time and again that it’s uniquely positioned to help guide its impressionable audience through subjects that might otherwise be deemed too mature for them.