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School hybrid plan would maximize safety in classroom

There’s no doubt that school administrators across the region are up against the biggest challenge of their careers as they figure out how to safely reopen schools this fall.

In less than two weeks, on Aug. 26, East Lycoming School District will ring the bell to summon students back from what has been a prolonged break. Every other district in Lycoming County and St. John Neumann Regional Academy will follow suit within the week.

And yet the information coming from state officials to districts throughout the state changes just about every other day.

The latest came this week when the state “recommended” how schools should reopen based on the county in which the district is situated.

Meanwhile, plans have been made, though some may change based on the latest from Harrisburg. State officials need to recognize that local school officials have not had the luxury of waiting for instruction from the state. They are obligated to move ahead with continuing the education of what we hope will be well-informed, smart adults capable of leading the world of our future.

In other words, local officials realize how important it is to refocus our children’s minds in ways that support their development and growth — without further delay. Children are like sponges; they soak up knowledge. We as a society cannot allow the sponge to go dry.

At the same time, safety is key. We must proceed with extreme caution and still get the schools open.

Of all of the plans that are out there, we believe the hybrid model is the best.

It provides in-class instruction two days a week for half of the students and then two days a week for the other half. On days that students are at home, they are to work independently on reading and other assignments, some with take-home materials.

This model does not require internet capability or remote instruction, a problem in areas without broadband.

The caveat is that when students return to the classroom, they must adhere to the protocol of social distancing, masks and hand-washing.

And if they get sick, they must be kept at home.

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