Our opinion: School’s correct shift to remote
Warren County School District officials have good reasons for moving to remote instruction.
With Warren County seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, teachers aren’t immune from quarantine requirements if they come into contact with someone who tests positive. Teachers being placed into quarantine means the district needs more substitute teachers. And often there aren’t enough substitute teachers to call.
Reducing the number of students in the building is likely necessary, but the board and district administrators also must keep in mind what closures do to students and parents. Parents, in the midst of the holiday season, have been given an additional bill to have to pay. Students find themselves transitioning back to online learning, a system which is particularly difficult for elementary school students and students who are on the fringe of passing or failing high school courses.
District officials also acknowledged students in life-skills and other special education programs, the hands-on emphasis of programming at Warren County Career Center, and the 21% of district students who are not in a position to have adequate internet access or bandwidth at home. That means there are still discussions to be had, and perhaps one of those discussions could include the thought that an all-or-nothing approach may not be the best path. Could half-day options, particularly for young students, help keep young children in a classroom, make life a little easier for parents and lessen the number of children in school buildings at any one time? Could small groups for struggling students who need in-person support by reinstituted for the next month of instructional time?
The district’s dilemma is understandable. But the dilemma parents face is no less difficult. Parents who fear their child will struggle with 30 days of online learning should continue to advocate for a workable solution for their children — and the district is likely to need to come to a compromise that helps those parents and allows the district to operate safely.