Editorials and opinions

Maybe there’s a silver lining

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Maybe there’s a silver lining


The giant experiment of opening schools in the midst of a pandemic started this week.  While Orleans County has only 17 known cases of COVID to date, asymptomatic people who have not been tested can spread the disease.  And no one knows right now how many people carrying COVID are out there.

As long as they have limited contact with others, the virus can be contained, but who knows what the result of throwing hundreds of schoolchildren together will be?

Teachers are having to learn new ways of teaching.  Prior best practices aren’t anymore. Well, maybe they are for teaching, but not for keeping people safe.

We understand the desire to return to something resembling normalcy, as well as the need for kids to have in-person learning, which is more effective in most cases than remote learning, especially for small children.  But those same small children aren’t likely to remember all the rules that accompany coronavirus safety.  No physical contact, masks, social distancing, no playing inside that involves exertion, no singing ….

Are those rules even enforceable with children?

Guess we’ll find out.  Over the next month or so, we’ll likely find out a lot of things.

It’s Tuesday, just the first day of school, and we’ve already heard kids who are apparently having phys ed classes outside at Barton Graded School repeatedly ask if they could take off their masks.

Meanwhile, many parents have decided to homeschool.  Many, of course, can’t.  They still have jobs, and childcare is both scarce and expensive.

But a good might still come out of this — innovation in education.  For so long when it comes to education we’ve largely heard much more about cost than quality.

Public education can often be hidebound – college track or trades track.  We understand the problems school choice could create for public schools, but we also understand that kids have different strengths, interests, and challenges.

It’s been forced on us, but it might be the year when education innovates in ways that fundamentally change how kids learn, and what they learn.  Perhaps we’re grasping at straws here, but this could be an opportunity — with more time outside, combinations of in-person and remote learning, and hard-working teachers coming up with creative ways to teach in an alien environment.  — T.S.

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