School districts caught between a rock and a hard place
On the one hand, keeping schools online risks hampering students’ education – especially students already at risk, such as those with learning problems or those who lack resources at home. On the other hand, sending kids back into the classroom risks spreading COVID-19.
School districts all over the state face a “no-win situation” when considering if or when to return to in-person learning. No matter what decision districts make someone is going to be unhappy – or even harmed.
“We’re seeing extremely strong sentiment on both sides, which makes it very difficult for administrators,” said Marcus Cheatham, health officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, according to an article on MLive.
Kalamazoo and Portage Public Schools are in a similar position as each district weighs whether to return students to classrooms in the coming months. Both districts are currently surveying parents to get an idea of what option will best suit their circumstances.
Meanwhile, district administrators face rapidly changing data and ambiguous guidelines.
“Part of the horrible dilemma that schools are in, and others who support them, is that we cannot tell when it’s safe,” Cheatham said. “We’re making very difficult decisions that are going to have potentially long-lasting consequences and the people making the decisions cannot foresee the future.”
In the end, districts have to be flexible. That’s the case in Plainwell where students moved to all-online instruction after 75 students and staff were asked to quarantine due to potential exposure to infected people.
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