We’ve always believed the best decisions are made by those who have to live with the consequences.
That’s why we’re so pleased to see area school districts adopted common-sense approaches to reopening their buildings in the fall. We’re even more pleased to see Gov. Mike DeWine and the Ohio Department of Health let them.
It’s important for educators to get their back-to-school plans right. They have the health of their students and staff alike in their hands. It’s important for everyone to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus during this pandemic.
It’s dangerous to try a one-size-fits-all approach to issues of public health, though. Each building in each district is a little bit different, and populations vary from city to village to township throughout the Lima region.
We applaud the efforts of the superintendents and health departments to put together common-sense guidelines that will get kids back in the classroom on time and for five days a week this fall.
Lima and the other Allen County schools released their guidelines Monday. The biggest difference between Lima and other schools is Lima will require anyone in third grade or higher to wear a facemask, while the surrounding Allen County schools merely recommend it.
It’s this kind of variation that shows the wisdom of letting individual districts make decisions. In the event another school sees an outbreak or Lima doesn’t, an individual district can adjust its plan to meet the situation.
All the schools promised to do their best on social distancing, limiting hallway traffic. Many districts are also demanding facemasks if you’re riding a school bus too.
Best of all, some districts are offering alternatives for parents wary of sending their children back to a classroom during a pandemic. Lima schools will accept students for online earning through Aug. 7 at the district’s website, limacityschools.org.
It’s also a political win for superintendents. Superintendents in Putnam County sent a letter to DeWine back in June, asking for the latitude to do what’s best for their districts in a less crowded county with less of a problem with spreading the virus. Ohio’s governor gave them and all the districts of the state that ability to do what’s right for them.
That decision in early July appears to have been the turning point for the governor. Now more decisions about the public health are being decided based on local conditions. We do wish he hadn’t gone so far as automatically mandating masks when a community hits a threshold of indicators, which brought on Allen County’s mandatory masks at 6 p.m. Friday.
That flexibility with education is certainly better than the rapid shutdown of school districts that happened in March, when the pandemic hit Ohio. Some districts had to shut down before cases had even hit their counties.
We’re confident the local county health departments and the districts will work together to make wise decisions to protect the health of students, teachers and staff alike. Things won’t go all the way back to normal when the school bells ring in August, but safely resuming the education of our children is a good step forward.