I would like to recognize the difficult decision the Bemidji school board faced regarding what COVID-19 model to open schools with this fall. Whether a person agrees with the choice made or not, we all need to realize what a tough decision this was.
What I did find ironic is that the entire meeting was held virtually. It would not have been overly difficult to physically distance in the large board room. Yet, the final decision made was to put 20-25 five or six or seven-year-olds physically in front of a teacher, all day, not virtually. I find the contrast confusing as I picture the scenario. I have never met a young elementary student who can keep a distance from a teacher. That is speaking as a former teacher, parent, classroom volunteer, and a grandparent.
I am well aware of the statement “The kids have to go back to school.” I have heard it many, many times. I think often though, the parents' image of “school” is not what the reality will be in September 2020. Without being able to share pencils, crayons, or even table space in primary grades; or projects, “turn to your partner” or team building at the middle school and high school levels, that image of “ school” is vastly changed.
Last, but definitely not least, our teachers' safety and wellbeing is every bit as important as the students' safety and wellbeing. Teachers, principals, paras, cooks, secretaries, bus drivers, and other student contact personnel have become essential workers and should be treated and respected as such.
Just some thoughts to consider, some of which were alluded to in (last) Monday's meeting. I appreciate the thought and discussion brought forth. Thank you ISD 31 school board for making the difficult decisions.