Our opinion: Schools need focus now

How the 2020-21 school year will greet Pennsylvania’s 500 public school districts is destined to remain a matter of deep concern in the weeks ahead, considering the many uncertainties of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as new evidence suggesting that children aren’t immune to it.

Understandably, officials of the 500 school systems will be working mostly behind the scenes during the summer, by necessity due to pandemic restrictions, to have a workable plan of action in place for when the new school year is scheduled to begin — no matter how the COVID-19 situation is playing out at that time.

During the coming months, parents should stay tuned for information about the planning and options under consideration. Despite the medical emergency, school district residents will retain their right to know and should not be reluctant to get in touch with their elected school board members about concerns they are harboring.

Amid the uncertainties regarding what is ahead, there is the important task of reacting to what already has happened – what happened and actually still is happening since the state’s schools were shuttered amid the pandemic’s tightening grip.

Attention must focus on evaluations of how all aspects of district operations responded to the coronavirus emergency.

Whether children got the best possible educational guidance during the final months of the 2019-20 school year is, of course, what many people will be thinking about first. How-ever, that is only part of what needs to be considered by districts large and small in the run-up to 2020-21.

All aspects of school operations must be subject to evaluation.

There needs to be close analysis of what can be done better if COVID-19 rears its ugly head again in the fall, or anytime after that in the coming 2020-21 school year.

Every member of every school district’s teaching staff, as well as administrators and employees of other segments of districts’ operations, should have the opportunity to provide input to their school board.

Probably no district’s response and performance was flawless, considering how sudden the pandemic crisis descended upon Pennsylvania and the nation, but even small errors or omissions need to be addressed.

Meanwhile, will districts conduct reviews of some of the important 2019-20 study topics if and when classrooms reopen in the fall? It is not too early for that to be an important point of discussion.

Presumably, teachers and administrators in area districts reacted to the pandemic situation in an acceptable, if not exemplary, way. However, if in any cases that did not occur, those situations need to be discussed in the months ahead, even if only in executive sessions, in compliance with privacy and contract rules.

Businesses of all sizes will be reviewing how these pandemic months have affected them, and they will be judging whether they should have done anything differently.

All of that is necessary for school systems, too.

“Evaluation” is the key on all economic fronts, going forward, but it is especially so regarding the educational welfare of children.

“Children are our future,” it often is said.

Actions and decisions at this time, based on evaluation findings, will help determine how great and prosperous that future will be.


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