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Schools and the virus: Let decisions be in local hands

A surge in COVID-19 positive cases locally has heightened concerns about the pandemic, but the number of cases in our local classrooms remains varied among different schools.

Therefore, decisions about closing schools, remote learning and continuation of traditional learning also have varied among school officials.

We fervently hope the decision-making remains a local decision. To date, local school administrators have shown the ability to be flexible, fast-acting and fully capable of equally weighing the health and education factors involved.

We don’t need the state to make the decisions for 501 school districts whose experiences, just like those in businesses and homes, vary widely.

A survey last week of local school officials underlined the differing coronavirus circumstances among schools. In Loyalsock, for instance, there haven’t been any virus cases in the middle school. Why would that school need to be closed to traditional learning?

The head of the Center for Disease Control said as much Thursday, pleading that government officials not uniformly close schools. He also urged people to wear masks and socially distance.

Earlier in the week, the CDC revised earlier instruction and said it does not appear the virus is transmitted from surface to surface, a particular concern in our schools. Every indication is that this virus is transmitted in the air.

Students, parents, teachers and administrators should heed all of that information in coming weeks and act accordingly. This is no time to panic.

In short, consider the circumstances. A family with someone having a health condition that jeopardizes them is certainly in a different decision-making circumstance than the family next door.

Older teachers also are in a different circumstance than others, as every breakdown of the virus to date shows the older you are, the more at risk you are. The case numbers for children age 10 to 18 remain quite low and the chances of a school-aged child having serious virus complications remain remote.

Parents need to weigh their child’s circumstances. There is no wrong decision as long as it is done with reason.

They should also consider what most people agree on — remote learning is not an equal replacement for in-classroom instruction. Every day a student is not in school, they are educationally disadvantaged.

Parents also have jobs. Most of them can’t afford to leave those jobs to be home with their children every day. And many low-income children desperately need the meal they get at school.

Local school administrators need to make mature decisions. Parents need to do the same for their children and their families.

So far we believe everyone has done that.

The state’s Big Brother approach regarding businesses at the onset of this virus jeopardized Pennsylvania’s economy and will have a long-term negative impact on thousands of businesses, particularly mom-and-pop operations.

We don’t need a repeat regarding schools. They each have unique circumstances.

Let the local administrators do their job.

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