EDITORIAL: School district taking right steps toward school reopening
Two steps forward and one step back can be a frustrating endeavor. We are glad the Butler County School District hasn’t made that mistake as it moves toward the safe reopening of facilities and in-person classes for the upcoming academic year.
From the formation of a reentry committee of various community stakeholders to parent enrollment surveys that had an impressive 85 percent rate of return, the district has taken a methodical, information-driven approach in its efforts to get students back into the classroom. A widely-viewed Q & A Facebook live event, in which we were involved, featured Superintendent Robert Tuck and Assistant Superintendent Josh Belcher. Both answered questions from parents for over two hours. To their credit, Butler County Schools didn’t rush ahead with June plans only to have to regroup and punt after July circumstances changed things. Sometimes being the first isn’t necessarily the best.
We are also glad the district is working hard at providing a safe Monday through Friday, in-person learning option when some other districts in the area have jettisoned that approach - at least initially. From an educational perspective, most studies suggest that nothing beats this type of instruction and starting the school reopening discussion with this goal in mind speaks to the value that local education leaders place on student-learning and the overall role schools play in most communities.
Having said that, safety is obviously a top priority of the district and multiple steps - masks, social distancing, cleaning, contact tracing, student transition - are being implemented to provide as safe of an environment as possible. Nevertheless, for those families that may not feel like in-person instruction is the best option for them, virtual (middle and high school) and Internet-based distance learning (elementary) options are available. So, parents have two initial options for starting school. That’s a good thing.
Schools leaders across the country face a tough task of navigating school reopening in the era of coronavirus. Often there are not easy answers as the situation remains fluid. The oft-repeated phrase of “trying to hit a moving target” is appropriate here. Butler County Schools have identified their approach to reopening schools as a playbook, a common sports term. The analogy works. When faced with uncertainties, flexibility and the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances is vital to success. To that end, the district also has alternative plans in the works if and when the coronavirus situation and the government’s response changes. Though critics abound, the process taken by the Butler County School District for reopening schools and the options that have been provided to parents and students are to be commended. We still have a ways to go until August 26 - the first day for students - but we are on the right path.
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