Schools face uncertain future as opening looms

The 2020-21 school year is fast approaching and the COVID-19 pandemic has not gone away.

So, what does this hold for school districts?

Marquette Area Public Schools broached the subject at its Monday virtual meeting, with Superintendent Bill Saunders talking about developing plans for the coming school year.

They include facial coverings and social distancing, of course, as well as the option for online instruction.

Many parents might opt for this alternative, although we believe the vast majority want their children to return to face-to-face instruction.

This, of course, depends on how the pandemic continues. The situation could change from one week to the next, or even sooner.

The fluid nature of the pandemic makes for challenging circumstances, to be sure, but it’s good to see that MAPS and other districts are looking at how to deal with the new school year.

Financially, the crisis will pose a problem. Should many online students register with MAPS, that will help the per-pupil foundation allowance, but if not, that will cut into finances.

At the least, MAPS has to purchase disposable face masks — after all, some kids might leave their masks on the table at home instead of bringing them to school — as well as special cleaning machines and hand sanitizer.

School officials can’t do much about what students do outside school property, but they can take precautions inside the buildings, and that’s the case here.

We don’t want to see MAPS or any other school district go into financial distress because of the pandemic, but the health and safety of students and staff is of the utmost importance.

Businesses and other places are trying to handle the pandemic, but the school environment is different. Many people are packed into a limited space, and it’s not as if they can pop in and out of a class instead of just entering a coffeehouse to grab a cup of java and leave. You’re also talking about little kids in some instances.

Teachers certainly have their work cut out for them.

However, we’re confident MAPS and other local school districts can navigate the uncertain future that comes with COVID-19.

Outside financial assistance certainly would be welcomed. What’s also needed is parent cooperation, patience and understanding of the unusual circumstances.


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