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Adaptability imperative as schools reopen

Elizabethton schools opened this week for the new year. Carter County schools are doing virtual learning for the time being. There’s ongoing debate about fall sports. This is a time of uncertainty for our school systems.
There will be masks, computers will be required, and parents, more than ever, must become involved in their child’s education, especially when they do classes from home.
It is a school year unlike any other with the threat of the coronavirus looming large over every school. In light of everything, the demand to ensure children are in school has merit. But so, too, do calls to require remote learning until COVID-19 slows down, as a rise in infection could shutter schools.
However, this year will take flexibility and adaptability on the parts of schools, parents, teachers, and elected officials — not further politicization of education. The entire community must step up to the plate.
Schools must provide a safe place for students — space to accommodate all of them in a socially distant manner. If we truly care about the academic and social growth of our youth and the health and safety of those returning to school buildings, we must continue to find ways to accommodate children and families alike as we navigate these uncharted waters.
Parents must step up to the plate as well. It’s as much your responsibility as it the teachers’, to see that your children apply themselves as they study remotely.
It’s going to be a difficult year for educators as they must prepare to teach students in-house as well as remotely to those students who are studying from home.
Both, Elizabethton and Carter County school systems are committed to providing a high-quality, educational experience for its students. It’s what our community has come to expect, and it’s what the schools will continue to deliver.
Aside from the teachers, there are many dedicated staff members who have been working behind the scenes to get schools open and will continue to be there to ensure a safe working and learning place. They are the custodians and maintenance staff who have relentlessly worked around the clock to clean and disinfect school buildings and modify classrooms, cafeterias, and gymnasiums to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Getting through the 2020-21 school year will come with challenges. It will likely involve some school closures to combat outbreaks. But it will require creativity and ingenuity to ensure the safety of everyone involved and that students’ needs are met while the pandemic rages on.
By following four basic protocols, the spread can be reduced. These are:
— Self-screen and stay home if you are experiencing symptoms, test positive for COVID-19 or have close prolonged contact with someone positive with COVID-19.
— Wear face coverings each and every time you are in a public place and physical distancing is not possible.
— Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer if hand washing is not available.
— Keep physical distance from others outside of your household to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
We wish all our students and teachers a safe and successful school year.