It’s an absolute marvel that Ketchikan public schools opened for classes this week.
The difficulty is illustrative of the struggles that other districts statewide and throughout the United States are experiencing as a result of dealing with the novel coronavirus. Too many of their doors remain closed.
But the community went to work in the spring with the intent to smartly start classes in the fall. “Smartly” meant a variety of scenarios. To imply that the work went without stumbling blocks would be disingenuous. It took hammering away, with staff and public involvement.
The district presented a starting point for a journey never traveled before. Parents — sometimes pointedly and occasionally emotionally — responded. Staff adjusted and a path forward materialized, with traditional classes convening in schools and other possibilities standing by in case any number of circumstances occur during the school year.
They could. COVID-19 could show up at one school or several. If it affected a family with a student at an elementary school, it would affect the student’s siblings at other schools. That’s only one example. For each of the more than 2,000 students — plus teachers, aides and other staff — other “what if” situations exist.
The district has planned for the majority of those. But, as is well known, there is no way to prepare for everything and surprises will come.
Ketchikan’s school administrators and its School Board, will listen and respond in the best possible way within their abilities. It is all they can do.
School isn’t like what it has been for decades. Classes are reduced in size and schedules vary; social distancing is required; masks are mandatory, and testing and other measures are being taken daily to protect those in the district.
Before and after school activities are revised or not likely.
To an extent, with each school being different from another, principals had to be creative individually.
The situation as a result of the virus is a big lesson. It teaches that life can change quickly and not for the better, but it’s important to pick up the pieces and move forward with the wisdom gained for the next scenario.
Within the big lesson is multiple little lessons — some more important, some less consequential. All are taken on as they come.
In these, students learn valuable attitudes and skills for dealing with life.
We applaud the school district — from the administration, teachers and aides to the janitorial staff— for a job well done. It takes all of you to do the necessary work that kicks off a school year.