As a new school year approaches, parents and students are faced with the question, what is the right way to proceed? It seems counter-productive to keep the doors closed at schools. On the other hand, if students and teachers attend classes in person, the potential for the virus to spread becomes a grim possibility.
In the past few months it has become more evident from reports out of several southern states that gatherings over 10 provide the environment for COVID-19 to spread more rapidly.
Realistically, kids are kids and social guidelines will most likely fall to the wayside. Masks on kids, have you tried that one? Kids forget to adjust it, sneeze in it then pull it down to wipe it, etc. Honestly, how do you keep kids from being kids? How do you keep them aware of social distancing when all they want to do is play with their friends?
Students will leave school, go home, hug parents, siblings and grandparents. Even if times were normal, kids will be kids and forget to wash their hands and socially distance from friends.
If schools open statistics predict the potential for the virus to spread increases.
On the flip side, online only instruction could diminish the quality of students’ education, discipline and social interaction they desperately need.
Additionally, in many cases some parents must return to the workplace and need the advantages schools provide to students. Without schools in session many parents are faced with the task of finding alternative care for their children.
Parents will continue to ask, “Who will watch my children? How will I continue to work, pay the bills and put food on the table? Will I have to leave my children unsupervised if they are only offered online education?” Tough questions with few answers right now.
On June 25, Superintendent of Estes Park public schools, Sheldon Rosenkrance, wrote a letter to parents stating, “We believe that the best place for students is in school, and the Larimer County Health Department is supportive of this. At this time, our goal is to work with Larimer County to utilize our small class sizes and great facilities to come back at full-time capacity this fall.”
The new school year plans for Estes Park schools are a work in progress and not fully-formed as of yet. Parents were sent surveys to gather feedback. The Trail-Gazette will monitor the plans closely and report the results as soon as we are given that information by the district.
This week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report detailing why public school districts should prioritize opening in-person learning for grades kindergarten through fifth grade and for students with special needs.
The report states these students struggle the most with online learning. The study also said these children need the most supervision.
With the start of classes only weeks away, it will be interesting to see how the need for the protection of students and staff is weighed against the extremely important continued quality education of the next generation.