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School begins, with even more openness

The Lakeville Journal Editorial

The past three (or really, two-and-a half) school years have surely been the most challenging in any educator’s, parent’s or student’s memories.  COVID-19 restrictions meant that there were times children in Region One schools could not take part in face-to-face learning, but rather only be remote. And for those families who had challenges with technology or simple access to the internet at their homes, the situation could seem impossible to manage.

And of course there was, and continues to be, the possibility of students and educators contracting the illness, which has changed year to year according to the strains of COVID-19 that have been prevalent at any given time. While parents and children learn how to cope with childhood sickness, no one really wants to deal with COVID-19 if they can avoid it.

Now, with a school year beginning with an openness that hasn’t exactly been the norm since 2020 (see the front page story this week), there will still be a need to be aware of challenges for both students and educators. This is the year when those students who need extra help with their grade level proficiency must find it.

But it should also be the year when teachers are given extra support in their quest to bring knowledge and the joy of learning to their students. During the pandemic, teachers have been among the most stressed of all professions. Many have left education and gone on to less emotionally demanding work, which can nonetheless often offer better compensation.

What work, though, is more important than educating and caring for our youngest citizens? They are the future of our society, and should have every opportunity to learn during their formative years. The pandemic has affected the natural flow of their education for the past three school years.

Another point of high importance: It’s been harder and harder to find school bus drivers, who are also at risk if COVID-19 is present among the students. This could mean the need to restructure how we get our children to and from the school buildings where they need to be to have the full educational experience year to year.

There are no guarantees with a public health crisis like the one we’ve all been living through the past few years. How do we continue to manage it all? There are preventive protocols, which recently changed from the CDC. The tools used most since 2020 included mask-wearing, distancing and sanitizing hands and surfaces in public places like schools. Vaccination made for a safer environment for all who came in contact with others. This year, masks will not be required from the beginning of the school year for Region One students. But like the past few years, if there are outbreaks, any and all of these tools can be used again.

Let’s all hope that the variations of the pandemic have now begun to run their course, and that the strains that remain can be managed by annual vaccines/boosters.

Region One schools begin Aug. 29. Here’s to a good year at all grade levels, one that will help students and educators get over some of the effects of the pandemic.

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