Shelter Island Reporter editorial: Welcome back

Even in the upside down world the pandemic has created, some things don’t change. Parents and children find themselves in the emotional states they encounter every time when August turns to September and the first day of school draws nearer.

Anxious, eager, ready and not-so-ready are the shifting positions of most of those who are looking at the change in their lives from summer’s freedom (more curtailed than usual by COVID this year) and the daily discipline and challenges of school.

Shelter Island students, especially the younger ones, will greet new classmates for the 2020-2021 school year. Some 50 new children have been enrolled, since many families moved to the Island full-time in the spring to escape places of higher COVID rates and have stayed on. The school staff and the community have welcomed them. The Island is stronger with their presence and participation.

Kids will be protected from the virus as much as possible at school. Videos have been sent home, in English and Spanish, to explain new procedures, including maintaining 6-feet distancing; checking temperatures each day; and requiring all students to wear masks. New air filtration equipment has been installed in classrooms, the gym and the auditorium. Several hand-washing stations have been added, as has disinfecting equipment, and two additional part-time custodial staff will be added.

School Supervisor of Building and Grounds Mike Dunning deserves the community’s thanks for overseeing these potentially life-saving changes.

We salute the Board of Education and the school’s staff and teachers, under the leadership of Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., for working hard, being diligent and smart to make significant adjustments to keep the school functioning and safe. It took the effort of all involved to achieve a goal that will benefit everyone, and keep the education of children foremost in their vision.

Another essential part of a complete education is continuing with the work of the Shelter Island Education Foundation, still active and forward-looking. Celebrating its 25th year of service, the Foundation is a nonprofit that uses private funds — almost all from donations  — to provide off-Island trips for students to New York City to experience world-class theater and museums. It also takes them farther afield, to all parts of the United States and abroad. The Foundation sponsors science and athletic camps and opportunities to grow that are beyond the Island’s ability to provide.

(To contribute to this essential organization, go to ShelterIslandEdFoundation.org, for information on programs and how to make a tax-deductible donation.)

We salute the families and the students who are gearing up for a new adventure that will enrich themselves and the community that supports them.