School board meetings are always interesting, and I never fail to come away with a sense that our teachers, principals, superintendents and trustees are working as hard as they can to make sure the students in their charge get an education.
Through funding cuts, tighter restrictions and increasing demands on aging buildings and technology, our school officials keep finding new, sometimes startlingly inventive ideas to meet the educational needs of the children they are tasked with teaching.
Now, schools are preparing to welcome kids back with the added responsibility of keeping them safe from the coronavirus. I didn’t think it was possible for our schools, already doing several somethings with almost nothing, to do even more.
But they are.
Covering school board meetings the past few months has been a type of education of its own with the lengthy discussion over policy, safety recommendations, public reception and the razor sharp scrutiny of minute details. Folks, I’m an editor. It is my job to nitpick, sweat the small stuff and make mountains out of molehills, and our school officials put me to shame.
Since the state department of education decided schools would be open in the fall, superintendents, teachers, principals, trustees, janitors, anyone and everyone who works in a school in Newton County has been examining, dismantling and reinventing public education to make sure students are as safe as they possibly can be when they come to learn in August.
On Monday, our three public school districts dropped their initial guidelines for returning to school, and, as predicted, the disgruntled muttering was not far behind.
I get it. The teachers get it. The superintendents get it. The guy selling cigarettes at the gas station gets it. The plans aren’t perfect, and they don’t take into account each parent’s, child’s and community member’s personal, political and spiritual beliefs on the coronavirus. They weren’t meant to.
Whether you believe students should wear masks or not, whether you believe schools should go back or not, whether you believe the coronavirus is real or a hoax (which it most certainly is real), I urge you all to recognize the days and weeks of long meetings, discussions and hard decisions that are reflected in these district plans. More than that, I urge each of you to do what you can to support these plans and encourage your friends and families to do the same.
What is the old saying about teaching a child? It takes a village? Keeping our schools operating and our students safe is going to take a village too. It’s going to take all of us buying into these plans, washing our hands and even wearing masks to make this work.
Our schools have done the footwork, talked with the experts and drawn up the rules to keep our students safe. Now, they need our help to pull it off.
Let’s give it to them.
You can contact managing editor Thomas Howard at email@example.com