OUR VIEW: Returning to school is a dilemma with no perfect answer

Published 9:58 am Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Clark County students are set to return to school Sept. 8, but that will look drastically different than any year in the past.

Rather than loading up on buses and walking through crowded hallways to classrooms full of other eager young minds, students will wake up and remain in the comfort of their homes for at least the first nine weeks of the school year.

The Clark County Board of Education voted earlier this month for the first part of the school year to be conducted virtually, and we know that had to be a hard decision to make.

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That decision is so difficult because there really is no ideal solution to the problem that is a global pandemic.

These are unprecedented times, and that means no one truly knows what the future holds or what exactly is the best course of action at this time.

Virtual learning has its benefits. The goal is to limit the spread of the potentially deadly coronavirus among the students in our community, who can then take it home and spread it among their families, who then spread it at their workplaces and in public places such as grocery stores or restaurants. Virtual learning ensures that no students in the Clark County school system catch the virus while at school, and that likely will prevent some community spread, too.

However, learning from home has its challenges as well.

Families are left scrambling to figure out how parents and guardians will be able to work to support their households while their children are not at school. Child care is a huge concern among parents, especially those of younger children.

All parents are likely concerned about how capable they are of helping their children navigate their assignments and the technology needed to do them.

As expressed by some parents at a recent school board meeting, many are also worried about their children’s mental health and the lack of socialization that comes with virtual learning.

We sympathize with both sides of the argument.

The main area we think the school district could have improved is in communicating to families just exactly what virtual learning will look like and doing it sooner. We have seen many parents stressed because of the uncertainty that comes with virtual learning. Will students be on a schedule and required to log in at certain times? If that’s the case, how can I make sure my child is doing his or her work while I’m also at work? Can students do their work in the evenings while their parents are home from work?

We understand that this process is fluid, though, and trust that the schools, teachers and administrators are truly doing the best they can with the information they have and the tools they’ve been given.

We ask that the community not blame those who needed to make tough decisions and especially not those who had no say in the matter at all, including teachers, for the circumstances.

This virus is at fault. These well-meaning individuals are just trying to do what they think is safest for the children and the community as a whole.

Keep in mind that the district not only had to consider the safety of its students, but also of its staff. By returning to in-person learning, the district would be putting its teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria works, janitors and all other staff at risk of contracting the virus, too.

While no one truly knows what it might have looked like for students to return to in-person learning immediately, the question comes down to whether we want to risk the lives of our young people, our valuable school employees and the others in the community to find out.


Editorials reflect the view of The Sun’s editorial board. To inquire about the board or for more information, email Editor Whitney Leggett at whitney.leggett@winchestersun.com.