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Our schools have kids’ best interest at heart

Both Carter County and the Elizabethton School Systems are back to school, and for the most part have resumed in-person classes. However, both school systems also recognize that school will not be business as usual as the coronavirus pandemic continues to be a concern.
That means masks are being worn by both students and teachers. It also means that parents who want their children to be educated virtually can choose that option.
Face coverings may only be removed for meals or at the request of a staff member. For the most part, teachers and administration report that things are going well, however, we must remind parents that keeping their children healthy and safe is their number one priority. Local educators want to provide their students the best education possible and they most are glad to be back in the classroom with their students.
Regular health checks will become routine in the schools as teachers and administrators try to minimize the possibility of a sick child infecting other students. Parents also are urged to monitor their children for COVID-19 symptoms, such as coughing and/or sudden loss of taste or smell. Students who have a temperature of more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit need to stay home until their fever is gone.
If a child is found to have a fever, having everyone wear face coverings will go a long way toward preventing exposure to the coronavirus.
Prevention is the most important step, but both school systems are also preparing to be able to respond appropriately if someone does get sick.
The key to helping our children adapt to the changes in their schools and still remain safe will be stability and routing.
Carter County continues to see a steady rise in positive COVID-19 cases, and many in the community remain divided over how much of a threat the coronavirus actually poses to school-age children.
For some students, distance learning just doesn’t work. Many don’t have access to the internet at home. And even though Carter County teachers felt their attempts to reach their students were successful while schools were closed this spring, many admitted that academic engagement was low.
Educators have expressed concerns about the widening gaps for more vulnerable populations such as students with disabilities or students who are already behind. Also, the alternative as to how children learn and are cared for in our present society demands it. When both mom and dad work, who takes care of the kids? When both mom and dad work, who teaches the kids?
Let’s face it. Students benefit from in-class, face-to-face, hands-on instruction. However, we recognize that our schools will not be able to return to normal anytime soon. So, school administrators and teachers must create a new normal that takes into account individual student needs, whether it be self-paced virtual learning or classroom and direct instruction. Education should never be a one-size-fits-all model.
Regardless, we wish our teachers and students the best this school year. Working together, it can be a successful school year.