Blaine’s Bulletin: Back to School
Washington, August 28, 2020
This was the first week back to school for many students in the Third District. Since our state’s schools closed in April parents, students, and teachers have all stepped up to adapt to distance learning and ensure our kids don’t fall behind. While learning from home was an acceptable alternative as we began understanding the virus and preparing our response, Missouri’s numbers have dramatically improved, cases and fatalities have decreased over the last few months and it is time to finally return to school.
Attending school in person is critical for the social, physical and academic well-being of the students. The American Association of Pediatrics said it “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school.” In July in the Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis, we heard from two of America’s top medical experts, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and Dr. Anthony Fauci who both confirmed the urgent need to get students back to school this fall for face-to-face learning and the unintended health consequences that could come along with keeping children at home. America’s kids have been at home missing their friends, teachers, sports, extracurriculars, regular classes and the socialization that school allows. Safely allowing them to have a sense of normalcy after a trying couple of months is exactly what most children need.
Fortunately, the Governor, our state’s school administrators, Department of Elementary and Secondary Educated (DESE), and Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) saw the urgent need for students to be able to learn in person and have gone above and beyond to get schools ready and adapted to deal with the challenges coronavirus imposes. The state has distributed 1.8 million masks to Missouri schools so students, staff, teachers, and families can feel more at ease with the return to in-person learning. And DESE and DHSS have released guidelines for school administrators to help ensure the safety for everyone present in schools. Students will be practicing social distancing, wearing masks when that’s not possible, and there are contingency plans in place should someone in the school start feeling symptoms of coronavirus to keep the virus from spreading. The federal government is also playing its part. Nearly $55 million from the CARES Act has gone to Missouri’s K-12 schools to allow for things like more broadband connectivity for students and increased support for students who may have fallen behind during the pandemic.
Back to school season is always exciting. Children look forward to seeing their friends, catching up on their summers, meeting new teachers and starting a whole new chapter of learning. We might not be totally back to normal for all Missouri students, but we will get there. In the meantime, families can find more information on the safety protocols that will be used in Missouri schools at dese.mo.gov. And please remember to thank the teachers, administrators, and everyone working at our schools to keep our students safe. What is a challenging and extremely impactful profession even in the best of times has gotten much harder with this virus, and we so appreciate their dedication to our children and communities.