We don’t want to get too excited. The worldwide nightmare of COVID-19 is far from over, and we don’t know how big a threat the variants will pose.
However, there is good news on several fronts:
• The A.K. Smiley Public Library will be open for in-person visits on Monday. The same precautions are still in place as before, but now you can even drop by on a Sunday afternoon.
• Prep sports are back, and it’s more than just cross-country. High school football returns in two weeks. It feels odd to be starting a sport usually venerated as a fall classic starting the day before spring, but we’ll take football whenever can get it — even if it’s just families in the stands.
• Most important, Redlands Unified School District trustees on Tuesday will vote on whether to open elementary schools to in-person learning. We hope they do.
Most private schools have been open for months, and we haven’t heard of major outbreaks. According to the World Health Organization report released in December, children 18 and younger represent only 8.5% of COVID-19 infections and there have been relatively few deaths. And while distance learning may be effective for some students, interactions with teachers and classmates seem particularly important for younger children.
San Bernardino County approved in-person learning for elementary school students on Feb. 15 after the rate of cases fell to 22.23 per 100,000 residents.
In a perfect world, all teachers would be vaccinated before interacting with students, but the CDC says it’s not essential. Redlands Unified has a good plan for keeping students and teachers safe: Face coverings, of course, including cloth and disposable masks, desk shields for student, teacher and staff desks, non-contact thermometers and hand sanitizers, and better air-conditioning filters.
Isolation rooms will be provided for students who show symptoms of infection.
While we’re looking forward to seeing the smiles of people we interact with, minus the masks, and to hugs and handshakes instead of elbow bumps, COVID-19 precautions may be with us for a while.
Gov. Gavin Newsom and California legislators agreed on Monday to provide $2 billion to help students in transitional kindergarten to second grade return to classrooms by April 1. No fooling. This is a critical time in the education of all children — to get them up to speed in reading by third grade.
The governor also is pushing for another $4.9 billion for summer programs to overcome the shortcomings of distance learning. Surely some young students have fallen behind and need help to climb that learning curve.
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