B of E chose wisely
This edition has within it the annual bus schedule for the re-opening of city schools, scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 8. Traditionally, that is up until about 20 years ago, the day after Labor Day was the universal opening day throughout the state. This “tradition” has been brought back for the same reason much of anything is done in 2020, the Wuhan Flu pandemic.
State officials mandated schools not open until after September 1. Many have opted to wait until Sept. 8, while some in the region have moved their openings back even further. Hamden announced last week it was waiting until Sept. 16 to open schools, while New Haven is doing remote learning until the end of October, when it will open its buildings.
We applaud the West Haven Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools Neil Cavallaro for making the decision it did for our students. In a plan voted upon more than two weeks ago, students will have a “modified hybrid” model. That’s fancy talk for half-day sessions five days a week. Lunches will be provided, but will be brought home for consumption, making sure that congregating in spaces like cafeterias are kept to a minimum.
Classrooms will be spaced in such a way to allow for the ubiquitous social-distancing requirement, while other spaces, including larger ones like auditoriums, will be utilized where space is limited. Those parents who wish to keep their children at home and continue “distance learning” via computer will be allowed to do so.
As we said, we applaud the Board and Superintendent for allowing a five-day schedule, albeit only four hours per day. We understand that this may be subject to alteration or modification as needs arise, but think it a better idea than those districts having a two-day on, one-day off, schedule, or other variations.
One of the most serious casualties of the last six months has been the loss of routine and schedule. People, no matter what the age, are better geared for life and what comes when a routine and schedule are part of it. How many of us, for example, had to look to see what day it was during the pandemic because every day was like the day before?
School, work, sports, recreation are all better when there is a set time to do a set thing. We get into a rhythm of life, and are better suited for what comes. During the
COVID-19 era, we have lost that, and it has led to more and more discussion of mental health problems.
The Board of Education and Superintendent have determined that a five-day-a-week schedule is what is best for our children, while leaving open the possibility of letting parents opt-out of the plan. This, too, helps the staff and faculty of our schools as they will be able to get back into a work-related rhythm.
Some faculty and staff are, understandably, reticent about the possibility of returning to work, but we believe that one way to move beyond the contagion phase of this disease is to get back into a normal way of life. So-called “herd immunity” can be developed, thus allowing for more normality in other aspects. Sweden, despite the criticism it took, is a primary example of that approach.
School opening is usually a time for getting back into the learning process. That process was abruptly altered in March, and continued in an artificial state for the remainder of the school year. With the Board’s decision, our students will have what they need: an environment that promoted concentration and study, while taking into account the realities of the current pandemic.