While the unknowns clearly outweigh the knowns about the start of school next month, one thing is crystal clear: Parents and students will have options.

That is a good thing. It’s a good thing for parents, students, teachers and administrators to have choices.

What works for one family may not work for another.

A few months ago in this space, we encouraged school communities to be proactive in planning. It seems they have done that and most Valley districts already have or will soon roll out their plans.

Unfortunately, many of these plans were created with the expectation that our Valley, our state, our nation and the globe, would have a better handle on COVID-19 than we do right now. Other than some more knowledge of how the novel coronavirus spreads, more contact tracing and a slowly improving — not nearly fast or wide enough — testing capacity, what has changed?

There are still some gaps to fill. Parents at districts throughout the region — including the three who released plans last week — are still voicing some concerns, seeking more information, especially about online programs and safety measures inside schools.

They must get the answers they seek and sooner rather than later. These are critical decisions that need to be made, decisions that surround health and wellness, curriculum for novel online learning, social distancing and sanitation protocols, among others.

We are about a month away from the start of the 2020-21 school year, so we are at a critical moment. 

Fortunately these options offer a level of flexibility for everyone. Not everyone feels safe sending their children back to school. Some parents and students may have had more success closing out the 2019-20 school year remotely and it is a viable option this fall. Others may have other hurdles, including busing, public spaces and masking for young students.

But at least there are options.

Districts have done a good job getting the information out that they have so far. With the understanding that reopening schools remains a fluid process based on dozens of factors, it is critical they answer any questions parents, students and teachers have before the first bus rolls out in August. 

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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