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A new school year, like never before

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

Every school year brings with it regulations and recommendations that are just a little different than the year before, and the year before that. And there are plenty of them for students, teachers and parents to remain aware of. But this year, the third school year that has been impacted by pandemic protocols, has such specific and well-planned requirements for in-person learning as prepared by the Region One administration that it is bound to be daunting for all those trying to achieve something like a normal school year.

Still, many, if not most, parents, children and educators would agree it is worth the trouble and time required to have in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.

When the schools had to be precipitously closed in March of 2020, planning for having students learn remotely needed to be done quickly and efficiently, and while it was, that doesn’t mean no problems arose. What became immediately obvious was that there were some students who had a lack of internet access, or challenges with sufficient home support for study. 

Lessons learned from the planning for that second semester gave Region One a good sense of what  the planning for 2020-2021’s school year had to be. And the administration had a balancing act to perform, between caution for the safety of the students, teachers and staff and a wish to provide the best school experience possible under extremely difficult conditions. Parents and other student caregivers found support for managing remote learning, but for some students, especially the younger grades, it was not a good situation for learning new things.

It’s funny how the priorities can change so dramatically in a crisis. So much of the education discussion pre-pandemic was focused solely on student performance. Now, it must seem much more important for all the adults in their lives to consider the complete health and safety of the students, making them feel they are in a safe and supportive environment that should make all kinds of learning possible.  Every crisis offers new opportunities as well as challenges, and Region One has acted admirably finding ways to keep students engaged with their education as well as healthy.

To achieve in-person learning this school year, however, there will need to be wide cooperation among all those who enter the Region One buildings. There has been an anonymous survey sent to all student households up to sixth grade to weigh in on whether they  would take part in PCR screening tests. This would be a way to detect COVID-19 cases that may be asymptomatic but could spread whichever strain more easily among unvaccinated children and adults. 

There are no guarantees with a public health crisis like the one we’ve all been living through the past two years. Yet there are protocols that have been proven to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, such as mask-wearing, distancing and sanitizing hands and surfaces in public places like schools. And vaccination for those who are eligible makes for a safer environment for all who come in contact with others, no matter where that is. 

For those who don’t have young children in the school system, be aware of what a stressful time this has been for families. Anything you can do to help de-stress their lives even a little will go a long way. 

Here’s to a good and full school year ahead for all.

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