When Brookfield-LaGrange Park School District 95 first announced it was going full steam ahead with regular in-person classes for the 2020-21 school year, we have to admit, we were a bit skeptical.
Since the end of June, COVID-19 has exploded regionally across the United States as states have reopened without a cohesive plan and no coherent direction from the federal government, which is opting to ignore the mounting number of cases and deaths from a pandemic out of control.
In Illinois, where the governor moved decisively in coordination with county and local leaders, things remain more stable. But, since the Fourth of July the number of new cases continues to tick upward and the start of the school year draws closer and closer.
The District 95 school board called a special meeting on July 21, after this newspaper’s deadline, to review and approve its reopening plan. The superintendent declined in advance of the meeting to elaborate on where that discussion might have gone.
We hope it was to amend the original plan. Because full-on, regular school just isn’t safe. The pandemic continues. In parts of the country it remains out of control and control here remains tenuous.
The city of Chicago is already moving to close barrooms, limit the number of people allowed to dine at one table at restaurants, require residential landlords to enforce visitor limits and other measures.
Everybody – even the students, at this point – would love for school to operate in its usual manner. But, let’s face it, schools on their best days are petri dishes, where children pass illnesses along to one another and their teachers, and by extension their families.
It’s bad enough when that ailment is the common cold or a seasonal flu. When we’re talking about a disease that has killed 143,000 Americans – and rising — in less than five months and has infected nearly 4 million, we just can’t take those kinds of risks with people’s health and lives.
All school districts need to take precautions to limit contact between students and staff. At best, school districts should strive for some sort of hybrid plan that allows part of the enrollment inside the building at one time and keep them from mingling closely with one another as much as possible.
We hate to say it, but sports and clubs are probably out for at least the first semester of the school year.
This is going to be a logistical headache and a frustrating way to go through a school year for everyone, but we have to battle through it.
We’re not in control of this pandemic, and are not going to be in control for months to come, if ever. The United States is now at the mercy of others to get us out of this predicament via a medical solution, because we have refused to responsibly respond as a nation ourselves.
Our children are paying the price of that failure.