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Reopening will have its benefits, but also its challenges

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

As Connecticut has begun its cautious reopening, taking it in carefully planned phases, those who are still employed here (because way too many have lost their employment or had it greatly diminished) may find the guidelines extensive and all too detailed. Yet, they also reflect the common sense steps that all of us have had to take in order to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the months of shutdown. In that those steps have proved effective, why not continue to try to maintain safe environments as much as we possibly can to keep the coronavirus at bay?

Those steps, however, are just one part of multiple challenges arising from reopening different sectors in the state. All our lives have changed dramatically since March, and the ways we have coped or not may surprise even us. But perhaps those whose home lives have been most affected by remote and shelter-in-place living are those with young children.  

Parents and children, as well as their teachers, have needed to reinvent their thinking on education and learning. Depending on students’ ages, individual characteristics and differences in how they learn, this time of pandemic has surely been one of intensity and difficulty in many of those households. Now, as they may be adjusting better and understanding ways to make this odd time workable for their families, parents may be pivoting once again to accommodate their chance to get back to work on a more regular basis. 

There are problems beyond safety and health measures that make this transition so challenging for families. After all, without child care for young children and the schools remaining closed, how are either single- or two-parent households supposed to cope with returning to either part- or full-time work? And for those essential workers who have scrambled to try to find creative ways to keep their children safe and learning while they needed to work, how do they make any system work in the longer term without that safe environment for their children’s care being available to them?

And continuing to look into the future: While the Region One school system is publicly funded and secure, how are child care centers, so essential for young families, to survive months of closure? They are small businesses, mainly nonprofits, that operate on the edge, especially in rural areas like our Northwest Corner. They are dependent on young families being able to afford their rates, yet they also need to have highly trained and dedicated teachers to take good care of our youngest citizens. 

Will child care centers be able to reopen when the time comes? If so, how do families manage until that time comes? And if they don’t reopen, how do families and child care teachers cope with that next challenge? These are just more of the unforeseen changes in formerly normal life that will require more of us than we may feel we have to give.

We need to be very aware of the problems we are all are having. They are different, depending on our circumstances, yet in many ways the same: resulting from the global pandemic and still needing local perspective. While on any given day our own difficulties may seem insurmountable, let’s all remember that others around us are in the same situation, or worse.

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