Editorial: Novel, challenging school year to come

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 13, 2020

When schools return to session next week, educators will also face novel and unique challenges of their own.

It could end up being one of the most challenging school years in the careers of many educators. And while a great deal of public discourse has rightly focused on the well-being of students, there are many important considerations related to educators and staff.

Mostly, there’s the challenge of teaching students with sharply reduced hours for in-person instruction. Rowan-Salisbury Schools has the tools to make virtual learning possible, but online learning will require a different type of motivation and occur in environments that aren’t always conducive for learning.

Teachers will have to contend with anti-mask parents and an added layer of complexity to student behavior issues. Politics is one area with which no educator should have to contend. There are already too many things to worry about for schools to become any more politicized.

That means letting educators, teachers and public health officials debate whether it’s time to go all remote or bring all students back on the same days.

Time is another critical factor. Even when people are exposed, there can be a two-week delay before infections take hold. And it can be even longer before an outbreak shows itself in school settings. Said simply, while patience seems to be in short supply today, it’s what’s needed most.

Patience will be an asset in educating students in an unprecedented school year. It will be vital in keeping students safe. And it will be important in knowing whether an outbreak has reached a tipping point for operations.

Superintendent Lynn Moody in a message published in the Post’s back to school section on Aug. 6 offered other virtues that will be critical for this year: intentionality, grace and kindness. She said that the school year would not be perfect and that there will be some mistakes. But educators and students will also achieve success together.

“We will move higher to the next level of finding the best ways to serve the thousands of children entrusted to our nurturing care and protection. And we will be ready to change if and when the need arises,” Moody said.

In a moment where the country and community are divided around so many issues, uniting around a few basic principles and leaving the decision making to the professionals might make the school year just a little bit less difficult for Rowan County’s educators.