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Glen Nickerson

I don’t envy parents with school-aged kids in 2020. They are facing very difficult decisions on how to educate their kids, but more importantly, how to protect them from a pandemic.

Is it time to send our kids back to school? My instincts say no, not yet. We have to do everything we can to protect our kids. Sending them back to school during a surge in the pandemic is not a good idea. We need to stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 first.

I know many parents may be ready to send their kids back. For some, it may be a work and childcare issue. It may be economic survival. Other parents may have the luxury of waiting, home schooling or the virtual option. Some kids don’t do well without the classroom setting. All of the kids have a learning deficit with the early end to the school year, and now a late start this year.

It looks like the schools are waiting to see how many students opt for virtual or home schooling. That number will give administrations a better feel for social distancing in buildings and buses. I’m not sure what the plan will be if too many decide for traditional schooling. At this point, it looks like about 2/3 of parents plan to send their kids back to traditional schooling.

Some have suggested a split school day. Busing and childcare might be a serious issue with that plan.

I do not envy our local school boards and administrations right now. They have tough decisions to make while dealing with extreme pressure from the state and federal governments. There’s the threats of funding losses. They also have the pressure of parents, teachers and unions.

Federal and state mandates are not a good fit because each school district may be dealing with completely different issues. Imagine Miami schools following the same plan as North Port.

We need to let our local leaders decide what’s the best plan for our schools and kids. If the parents don’t like the plan, they’ll let them know. It’s harder to tell D.C. or Tallahassee that we’re not happy with their plan.

Delaying the reopening of schools this past week was the right move. It seems inevitable that there will be outbreaks when schools reopen. Some may argue that kids don’t get the virus as bad, but we still don’t know much about this deadly virus.

If the virus does break out in our schools, kids and staff will bring it home to their families, friends and neighbors. Multi-generational households should have serious concerns.

We really need to get COVID-19 under control, so we can get the kids back to school.

Glen Nickerson is the publisher and editor for The Daily Sun. He can be reached at glen.nickerson@yoursun.com.

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