Leaders at the Midd-West School District are taking the smart, proactive approach to reopening schools in some capacity next month and parents, educators and taxpayers should take full advantage of the opportunities the district has put in front of them.

District officials announced last week they will hold four public meetings in July to engage the community in wide-ranging discussions focused on reopening schools for the 2020-21 school year during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unquestionably there are dozens of topics to be discussed, many of which may not have answers available for weeks as the pandemic continues to evolve.

Inevitably the final terms for returning to schools will fall to the school board and school officials. Information collected from other stakeholders will be critical and should be considered.

The district intends to start school as scheduled on Aug. 24. Joe Stroup, director of curriculum and inclusion for the district, said students will have the option of remaining at home and taking cyber classes. For the students who will be returning to the district’s four buildings, he said, the administration has some proposals they will share at the meetings and is looking for suggestions from the public to ensure everyone feels safe.

“We need to get as much input as possible,” he said.

The district already has some data to work with. A survey previously sent to families in the district showed that 70 percent want students to return to school but don’t want them to have to wear masks. Data show 12 percent of parents are “very concerned” about sending them to school where they will be around others without face coverings. 

Clearly details have to be worked out to accommodate everyone. By getting in front of families and hearing their concerns in person, rather than in a couple of checkmarks in a survey, the district should have plenty of information. It all must come with the understanding that the climate could be drastically different a month from now.

The public meetings on the reopening of Midd-West schools in August will be held at the following dates and locations: High School on July 8; Middleburg Elementary School on July 9; Middle School on July 13; West Snyder Elementary School on July 14.

All meetings are at 6 p.m. The public is invited to attend any of the meetings, but are asked to sign up on the district website to keep the crowd at or under 250 to ensure social distancing.

Take advantage of these public forums because every voice needs to be heard right now.

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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