School is open, with a definite difference

Most school years, or really, let’s be honest, every other school year in memory, the system for opening has been pretty much the same as the years before. There may have been some small modifications in response to changes in the student population. And, each year, students may have felt some trepidation about beginning a new venture, especially if they were entering a new phase of school, like going from eighth grade to high school. But that is nothing like the anxiety that students, parents, teachers and administrators must all feel this year due to the challenges of COVID-19.

This first week of school was surely a difficult one for all in Region One for that reason. Yet even given all the various measures that had to be taken in order to fulfill the requirements of state and health officials for the opening of school, it should be noted that things seemed to go pretty smoothly. Certainly things are very different, and for some activities the individual schools have to feel things out and see how they are working day to day. Then, if they have to modify the way they were originally set up, they know why improvements need to be made.

Surely the students, no matter their ages, are by now accustomed to the new world of COVID. Wherever they go, in Connecticut, or neighboring New York state and Massachusetts, they must wear masks in public and are also reminded about washing their hands and using hand sanitizer regularly by their parents and other caregivers. They must have heard again and again about social distancing, and understand some measure of the critical nature of being safe when out among other people, both young and old.

Now, though, even with their new-found knowledge of how to combat the coronavirus, being among their new classmates, students must still find it hard to maintain distancing and be responsible in their interactions with their new friends. What is a more hands-on environment than child care and school for young children? Being close and sharing their space are the ways kids get to know one another, as well as their new teachers and administrators.  

Given the care taken to analyze the approach to reopening schools in person, we can have some hope that a new wave of illness may be avoided if everyone sticks to the guidelines. But this can only happen if everyone is vigilant and very careful. The recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control is for everyone to get a flu shot early in the season,  so that if one contracts the flu, it is a lesser version of what it could be. 

Any steps taken to keep on the better side of health will only help in the face of another possible outbreak of COVID-19, for which, of course, there is still no vaccine and for which the viable treatments are still in flux. And which remains extremely contagious, according to all health experts and proven by the rampant spread in states that aren’t maintaining careful restrictions.

We wish all students, teachers and their families a good school year, and a healthy one.

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