The challenge of opening schools in a pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has challenged our educational system and stressed our societal structure more than any other time in history. The value of education has been on display as parents, teachers, students, administrators and the total structural staff have used their collective knowledge and experience to find a responsible, safe and effective way forward.
In the midst of this pandemic, starting a new school year and continuing the all-important work of educating and assisting the healthy development of children and young people has rightfully received all focus.
That’s why it was so heartening on Aug. 6 to see the community and Cape Henlopen School District board members, administrators, teachers and staff spend seven grueling hours in a remote, online meeting discussing and debating approaches for starting the new school year. Realizing the complexity and enormity of the task at hand, board members agreed to suspend the usual 15-minute total time limit on public comment so they could listen to countless perspectives and opinions.
At the conclusion of the meeting, board members voted to move forward with a system that, come Sept. 16, will include a combination of remote learning and classroom instruction. Attendance will be required, as always, and carefully monitored. Every student will be accounted for. Heavy emphasis is being placed on the proper masking, social distancing, hand washing and constant cleaning of facilities required to ward off the highly contagious COVID-19.
Daily self-health assessments by all to keep COVID out of the schools will be critical to the success of this effort. The district is providing forms to be referenced daily to help make the process become routine.
Board members are feeling the full weight of their volunteer service. They and administrators should be commended for understanding how important and enlightened it is to listen to the entire community as they go about making their decisions.
We can meet this challenge if all of us take the danger seriously and play our part responsibly.