EDITORIAL: School press on during COVID surge

One of the many challenges stemming from the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is the continuation of in-person learning in schools. Nearly two years down the road, one of the lessons learned from the pandemic is that there’s no substitute for in-person learning, that as grateful as we should be for the technology that allows for virtual learning there’s simply nothing like the real thing.

But continuing to teach students in person has been challenging, as the Record-Journal’s Mike Gagne recently reported.

“The biggest issue is I have more students out right now than I’ve ever had out before,” said Tim Sweigard, a science teacher at Meriden’s Platt High School. “It’s a challenge for us. How do we keep those kids moving forward?”

The daily positivity rate in Connecticut has recently been at around 23%. At a Meriden school board meeting last week, School Superintendent Mark Benigni said a decision to return to remote learning would be for the governor and state legislature to decide.

While the last two years have been challenging, Benigni said it was not a lost two years for students. One area where the virus impact was significant was in grades three to six, where pupils attending in person the last school year fared better than those who went to school remotely. That should hardly come as a surprise.

A bright spot with education generally has been communication, which involves parents, schools, health workers and state officials. 

“I think we’re dealing with a fluid situation in general in regards to COVID-19,” Benigni told the R-J. “I think it’s tough for families and for the school district to deal with all the changes. But they’re necessary changes as we learn more about the virus.” 

This is all encouraging, considering the spike. There’s always the possibility that a return to remote learning will become necessary, of course. While we’re hoping that doesn’t happen it’s worth calling attention, once again, to the remarkable job schools are doing in keeping all this going. These are challenges no one could see coming, and schools have adapted. At this point it seems likely there will be more challenges, and adaptations, to come. 

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