Local students finish the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year

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As Lake Land students surpass the semester’s midterm mark, area school children are winding up the first quarter of the 2020-2021 school year. The start of this school year, and year in general, looked a little different than others before it. As Covid-19 continues to affect people around the globe, many Illinoisans are still searching for balance amidst the “new normal.”

Though there were hopes of in-person learning at the beginning of the quarter, the increase in Covid-19 cases forced local districts to conduct schooling remotely. It was a big adjustment for some, but it was not all bad. For this parent, the technological frustrations were an easy trade-off for the peace of mind of my kids’ safety. For others, the demands of work schedules vs. childcare options made life miserable. Truly, there was no one-size-fits-all solution to meet every need, but the districts put forth a commendable effort. 

The second quarter of the 2020-2021 school year promises more adjustments ahead. Though many area parents are chomping at the bit to send their students back, others are more apprehensive. Keeping in mind that there is still no known cure or vaccine for Covid-19, many question the safety and necessity of an in-person return. Some local districts are opting for a hybrid option in which students alternate days between remote and in the classroom, thus minimizing the risk of exposure and number of children on campus at one time. Other districts are a bit more black and white, leaving the parents to decide between their students being fully remote or in-person. 

This was not an easy decision, but ultimately, my children will be returning to school in-person for as long as that is possible. In an article from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), the benefits of traditional school were outlined. Their findings insist that the in-person class environment is best for fostering emotional and social needs, as well as providing adequate dietary nutrition and physical activity. P.E. in the living room was a means to an end, but ideal for neither cardio nor my furniture, frankly. Though many districts offered supplemental meal programs, nutritional needs are better met in the cafeteria setting for many families. For abused and neglected children, the school environment can be crucial for identification and treatment of these issues, whereas sadly, there are children at home with their abusers as we speak. The remote learning setting can be a huge distraction for young learners. Additionally, schools offer support for struggling students in a way that even the best-meaning parent may not be able to provide.

Several area schools have already resumed in-person learning, with others soon to follow. Each district has outlined safety and sanitization plans that include masks, social distancing, and frequent handwashing. If we take nothing else away from the lessons of 2020, we know that nothing is guaranteed. Though many doubt that in-person learning will last, we will strive to make the most of the situation one day at a time.

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