The News Editorial: Back in school
August 20, 2020
Worland, Ten Sleep and several area schools began in-school classes this week. Washakie County School District No. 1 postponed the start of East Side Elementary until today (Thursday) due to two staff members testing positive for COVID-19 at the start of the month.
Across the state and across the country school districts have had to make tough decisions on whether to have classes online or in person or provide a hybrid.
We congratulate our local schools for the choices that they made. They were not easy choices. In a time where things can change quickly, planning for school to open could not have been easy.
As the editor of the newspaper I was on hand at West Side Elementary for the first day of school. I wore my mask in case I got within six feet of students or staff while taking photos.
I was able to visit with Principal Bruce Miller who was both excited and nervous. It has been five months since last they had students in the school building. For most educators I know they love their interactions with their students. I know being away is hard.
They all did a great job adjusting to the adaptive learning plan last spring.
And let’s remember that youth seem more adaptable to change than we adults do. Students did not seem bothered to be wearing their masks as they entered school.
They will adjust no matter what comes next.
My hope is, however that students and staff remain safe and healthy this year and are able to remain in school this year.
It is not about studies or politics, it’s that I believe most students learn better in the classroom. I spoke to a few students over the summer. Out of curiosity I would ask how they did during the online instruction this past spring. I would tell them at times I get easily distracted when I work from home. The dogs play the in-and-out-game. One brings me a ball and if I shut her out I hear her sighing outside the door. Are there distractions at the office? Sure, but they are usually work related. And if there are too many I can shut the door to my office and everyone knows I’m focused on the task at hand.
One student told me that they ended up working for the family farm a lot and admitted that they “didn’t learn as much” during the adaptive learning program as they do in the classroom. Several students said they could not wait until they could be back in school with their friends.
Some students may thrive under an online system, those who are regularly home-schooled are used to that specific structure, as are their parents.
Which brings up another issue of going online for parents with younger students. High school students for the most part can take care of themselves. Younger students however need supervision so a parent must quit their job to be home with the children or hope they have an employer that will allow them the flexibility to work from home with flexible hours.
Students also like to socialize, whether it be six feet apart or not, and that happens in the school setting.
Now that schools are back in session around the Big Horn Basin, remember you can help keep the students safe – remember to stop for school buses with flashing lights, stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, adhere to the school zone speed limit and adhere to the COVID guidelines the schools have set forth in order to try and keep the schools open year round.