All together now
Anyone who has followed the issue of the public schools reopening on the local, state or national level knows that the matter has reached a tipping point. It’s time to reopen the schools, for education, mental health, economic benefits and a host of other reasons.
Obviously, everything remains contingent on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We certainly see the reports of lockdowns happening in other countries again.
Why should this point in time, and this nation, the United States of America, be different?
Two reasons: our relentless ability to innovate and adapt, and our inherent desire to unite and help others, particularly children, in a time of need.
If this doesn’t count as a time of need—our school-aged students out of school for a year—we don’t what is.
So, all together, now: teachers and school staff, all members of the union, are being vaccinated. Parents are being heard at board meetings. Board members are reevaluating plans. Students are readying themselves to return to total, full-time in-person learning.
Will it happen in spring of 2021, or fall of 2021? That is the question looming right now. On CNN this past weekend, it was reported that a medical study showed three feet of social distancing was acceptable, an amount of distance that would make it far easier for school districts across the country to reopen buildings that housed hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of students and staff daily.
In Hammonton, the board has been asked directly by parents to reopen the schools. No one envies the position of Hammonton Board of Education President Sam Mento III and the rest of the board members. Any decision they make—either to open the schools or continue the status quo—will be second-guessed. At some point, however, we must reopen the schools in Hammonton and the nation. If not, we will be undermining the democratic right to learning for our most valuable commodity: our students.
They are the future.
They must be protected and educated.