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Back to school, in person, important for parents, students, and teachers

It’s back to school time locally.
Elizabethton City Schools are scheduled to reopen this week with inservice for teachers Monday and Tuesday and workdays for teachers Wednesday and Friday. Student registration is scheduled for Thursday with students returning to the classroom August 9 for their first full day of school.
Carter County students will return to the classroom August 4 for their first full day of school. Teacher workdays are planned this week.
There perhaps is some angst among both teachers and parents about returning to the classroom.
The coronavirus is by no means tamed and anytime people gather, there’s a chance of one person spreading it to another.
But we also understand the importance of school.
And not just virtual school taught over a computer but physical school, with in-person interaction between students and teachers and between students and students.
Virtual school may work well for some, but for students, who lack the discipline and focus to stay engaged in front of a screen for hours on end, for those who need feedback from teachers and peers, there’s no substitute for the real thing.
And, there’s the matter of working parents of children too young to be left alone.
So important is the education of our children and the economic construct of having kids in a learning environment during the day that we would characterize schools as an essential service. Much like health care, pharmacies, gas stations, and grocery stores that have operated through the pandemic, schools must find a way to operate now.
Learning is essential for students, and most students and teachers welcome the opportunity to get back to school, to be with their friends, to participate in sports and other school activities.
System administrators in both Elizabethton and Carter County have gone to great lengths to make the return safe for students, teachers, and staff.
That should provide some level of assurance, but schools will never be able to account for all the risks. It’s almost certain someone, somewhere, will enter a school with COVID-19.
That children seem less susceptible to getting seriously ill and less likely to spread the illness may be of little comfort to the ones who come in contact with an infected person.
We fully understand that for some, it is a difficult decision to make and it isn’t fair that people are put in that position through no fault of their own. But little about the current pandemic is fair.
However, we believe that both the city and county are doing the right thing by reopening schools. We encourage students to wear masks and to follow the guidelines proposed by their schools.
Our schools have done a good job so far, and we’re all looking forward to seeing more students back in the classroom where they belong. We wish both teachers and students as well as parents a good and successful school year.