Editorial: We applaud school opening safely

During August and early September, many parents debated whether they would send their children back to school this fall.

Faced with the COVID-19 pandemic that aborted in-person classes last March and the threat of a resurgence of the illness this fall, they wondered if it would be safe.

They listened to advice from Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D., about what was being done in terms of practices being put in place for their children’s safety and efforts to step up cleaning of the building.

Still, some feared that their children might become ill and/or infect others.

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Ultimately, only two sets of parents opted for homeschooling and one of those has reversed course and brought their children back to the school.

Now a month into the new school year, what Mr. Doelger said is proving to be true — a tribute to him, the entire school staff and families who well prepared their children to follow instructions that were new to in-person learning.

Shelter Island is one of the few schools statewide and, in fact, nationwide to bring all of its students — prekindergarten through grade 12 — back to school. They have also absorbed some 50 students new to the district who are assimilating well with their classmates.

All are following what they have been taught at home and had reinforced at school: Wear masks; wash hands frequently and thoroughly; and despite the temptation, avoid hugging classmates and staff to express the joy that came with being reunited.

We congratulate Mr. Doelger on providing the leadership necessary to make it safe for the school to operate and salute the many staff members who worked conscientiously to teach students remotely last spring and to welcome them back to the classroom in September. We applaud the maintenance staff who work diligently to keep the building safe. We also respect the efforts parents have made to teach their children the proper safety measures that have resulted in a safe return to in-person learning.

We offer a word of caution: The same factors that made it possible to return to classrooms in September must be practiced going forward to keep everyone safe.