One size won’t fit all when it comes to reopening local schools, but all schools should have contingency plans based on local COVID-19 statistics and availability of personal protective equipment.
From feedback we’ve received, some in our communities applaud the reopening of schools while others believe it to be a big mistake.
One thing is for certain — school faculty and staff have an even greater responsibility this school year to keep their students safe and healthy.
There is great value in face-to-face education and socialization with other children. It is likely that children are feeling the effects of isolation after spending most if not all of the summer isolated from their playmates.
Of course, this is no easy choice when it must be balanced against the need to keep children safe from infection.
Faculty and staff must diligently monitor hand washing, social distancing and signs of illness. Students who are running fevers or experiencing other symptoms must remain at home and take advantage of online learning. Students and teachers should wear face coverings when moving in close proximity to others.
There should also be a plan in place to close the schools and revert to online instruction in the event of an outbreak.
Elwood Community Schools Superintendent Joe Brown provided a good example of appropriate action in the event of a positive test when he notified all parents that a member of his staff had tested positive for the novel coronavirus. That individual and all those within close contact were then quarantined for two weeks.
Anderson Community Schools opted for a delay in reopening, with online classes beginning Aug. 5 and a reassessment of possible in-person classes in early September.
As we have observed, the virus doesn’t operate on our timetable. It doesn’t care about the economy or education, and it does not discriminate.
We must proceed with caution.