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EDUCATION Reopening has no map

The OBSERVER’s View

Schools across the region and around the state are on the hot seat. There’s no question parents and community members are frustrated with the lack of information and the uncertainty that revolves around reopening plans at many districts.

It is no different in Chautauqua County. What is happening here — reopening a school during pandemic — has never happened before. So even though state Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave each district the authority to reopen, there is no true road map to how this gets accomplished.

Already in southern states, especially Georgia, the reopening has been a disaster and brought plenty of concerns and fear. It goes without saying, but officials here do not want the same kind of result.

So as parents look to the districts for answers, there is nothing easy about this process. It almost seems as that making high school courses remote for the first quarter is a no-brainer. They are the most mature and seasoned learners. Bringing back the younger children, with more distancing, will be a challenge but is something needed for their development.

Both Dunkirk and Fredonia schools are doing their best to listen. Dunkirk, as an example, heard from nearly 1,100 parents in its survey. Some 689 wanted children to return to school and 405 wanted an online model.

“These numbers indicate strongly that we need to provide families with a choice,” Superintendent Michael Mansfield said.

Without the options, however, there is a uniform approach. Come to school or stay home for online.

But we do not have this currently with COVID-19. What districts are trying to do is cater to everyone’s needs. This, especially in large districts, is what adds to an already complicated and overwhelming proposition.

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