The Ketchikan School District proved itself again this week as it continues to work through its response to the novel coronavirus.
As is widely known, the district followed state mandates and closed schools in the spring and shifted into distance learning via video.
With limited success. Many parents, grandparents and guardians panned the experiment, although the district must be given credit for trying. COVID-19 required an unexpected adjustment by the district, just like it did for government, businesses, organizations and individuals.
Now, the focus has to be on the future, not the past. What’s done is done, and that’s the approach the district must take. A new school year is approaching, and will be here all too soon.
That’s what has parents in particular, but likely the district and its staff, concerned, with frustrations expected and realized.
About eight parents spoke at this week’s regular Ketchikan School Board meeting, expressing a range of worries.
Their comments reflected the value of education. A few of them being Ketchikan High School graduates who have gone on to successful professional careers, they respect what the district has offered and want that for their children — in the classroom.
Every parent who spoke lobbied for getting kids back in class with their teachers. It’s what works.
Clearly, it’s what the board and the administration and much of the district’s staff desire, as well. Many in the community, if not all, would like to return to days that at least more closely resemble what had become normal.
The district has been working toward that goal and the work continues. The discussion and options are fluid, and, it’s likely they will be for some time to come. It’s the case both in and outside of the district.
The key, as it usually is, is communication. It’s an area that always needs work — even when it’s good — and within the district is no different. It’s never good enough.
The parents came forward to share their thoughts on the information they had been provided. Board members responded in a way to indicate they heard, asking that returning to classrooms in the fall be on the list of possibilities. And the superintendent reiterated that the district was listening to parents, noting, as an example, that the weekly teacher in-service day outlined in one option for resuming school would be changed from Wednesday to Friday as some parents had requested.
How the school year will start is unsettled. It could be for some time yet. Life changes direction quickly these days. But, the parents demonstrated this week the way differences should be handled. They didn’t resort to profanity. They didn’t spray paint graffiti in the meeting chamber. They didn’t come armed with anything other than their well-articulated statements, and they didn’t dismiss the idea that they could learn from listening, too.
Parents expressed a desire to be part of the solution to the problem created by COVID-19. The board and district stated the parents’ input is welcome on this issue and others coming in the future.
Much has to be considered in restarting school and what that will look like — students, teachers, staff and the well-being of the district provided by the public. The issue is complicated by the fact that society has come to depend on the school district for not only educating but caring for their children while their parents work. Much is required from the district that hadn’t been decades ago.
But it will make it through this. Then it will be on to the next issue.
And, in every instance, communication will be key.