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Student safety should be first school concern

With a new school year a little over a month away, school districts across the region have been adopting safety plans.

No masking required. Vaccinations encouraged but not mandatory. Social distancing and hygiene protocol to be observed.

But, and this is a big “but,” any new mandates coming from higher government authorities — the state departments of Education and Health and the Centers for Disease Control — will be followed.

That’s as it should be, in our view.

Yes, these plans are required for districts to receive American Rescue Plan funds, but money should not be the primary consideration.

The most important aspect of these plans is the welfare of the students who will be returning to in-class instruction, yet that seems to get lost when the political side of this issue takes over the conversation.

Let us be clear, this should not be a political issue.

It should be a reality check. We are not out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID-19.

The biggest threat now appears to come from the Delta variant, which has been highly publicized for some time.

Its victims are much younger than the majority of the 600,000 U.S. citizens who died from COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

We have a powerful tool to combat this virus — vaccines — but reluctance by too many to get vaccinated is getting in the way of achieving herd immunity.

Now it has become a pandemic of the unvaccinated.

Rather than getting caught up with protesting masks in school, the focus should be on keeping children healthy in school and on stopping the spread of the coronavirus, however we may and in line with shifts in the spread.

The latter is best accomplished by getting vaccinated. And for the former, let’s place faith in those to whom we entrust the education of our children.

It is unfortunate that districts have been put in the position of having to strike a balance between coronavirus politics and what should be done for the greater good.

If that means wearing a mask at some point in the future because the situation has become dire, is that really too much to ask?

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