Late last week, a number of local school districts – Riverside Elementary School District 96, Brookfield-LaGrange Park District 95, Lyons Township High School and Riverside-Brookfield High School – announced that due to the exploding number of new COVID-19 cases, they were going to take an "adaptive pause" in their hybrid learning models, which had students reporting to classrooms one or more times a week.
In the case of the grade school districts, those pauses would come after the Thanksgiving break to give time to see just how those choosing to gather as extended families for the holiday impact the spread of the disease.
If it's anything like Canada, which celebrated its Thanksgiving on Oct. 12, we're likely in for another spike on top of the one we're all already experiencing. We'll see.
What was perhaps more interesting last week was the announcements by high school officials that their adaptive pause would be effective more or less immediately, and that they'd update families on the situation as the month drew to a close.
So, if there's any sign of a post-Thanksgiving spike, the all-remote learning model could be extended, perhaps for the rest of the first semester. While that would be unfortunate, it's a possibility.
That RBHS would announce that pause just three days after a school board meeting where some members of the board argued in favor of bringing back students to classroom two or more days a week underscores the frustration that we're all feeling right now with the oppressive pall of COVID-19.
It underscored a couple of other things specifically related to RBHS, which need to be addressed now.
First, there is a clear disenchantment with the way the in-person classroom experience is being delivered. With the in-person experience essentially replicating the remote experience for students sitting in the classroom, it's no wonder that students are simply staying home. What's the point?
If the school is going to bring students back into the classroom, it needs to make that in-person experience engaging. Perhaps the answer is as simple as teachers providing in-person instruction the way they always have, directly engaging students in the classroom while those attending remotely can watch.
That may have the added benefit, from some school board members' perspective, of getting more students in the classroom when it is their day(s) to attend.
Is that a perfect solution? Of course not. There are no perfect solutions right now. We're winging it, people.
Because there's no perfect solution, no one specifically is to blame for this situation, and school board members need to tone down the rhetoric regarding the faculty, who are trying to navigate a lose-lose situation -- one school board member suggested they call in the lawyers for some sort of legal action. For what? You want to start a blacklist?
The pandemic calls for many virtues at a time when we are all more fried than virtuous. We need to stay nimble because we're not in control. We need to stay kind and generous toward others because none of us are in control.
We need to stay determined while allowing some simmering frustration and anger, because right now and for some time ahead this virus is in control.