When there are no perfect answers

Greetings Huron School District students, parents, staff, and patrons:

I’ve attempted to write a “Status of COVID” column for several weeks. Each time I try to share, I stop, as the message does not seem to come clear in my words.

As we count down the days to approval of our “School Re-entry Plan,” I’m motivated to once again write to our many stakeholders and share thoughts on where we are and how we got here.

The reality of this crisis is that “There are no perfect answers” to the many questions that we began dealing with in late February, intensifying with the closure of our buildings on Friday, March 13, and continuing as we “authorize” a plan for beginning school on August 24.

The reason I highlight “authorize” rather than “finalize,” is because the plan will change as we learn more about what works and doesn’t work when school is again in session. As I write this column, the plan is now 22 pages long, with an additional 20 pages of Appendix information to help all understand how we got to the point of our decisions.

There is no answer to guaranteeing:
— that no one will get sick.
— that our re-entry plan will work.
— that athletics can resume this fall.

Here is what we know as we move into the final week of July:

Our re-entry plan will give parents the option of having their children attend school or continue to learn as a fully enrolled member of our school district while learning from home.

Our plan will have “Threshold” levels of Covid 19 exposure that will be determined by the Operations Section of the Beadle County Covid Task Force.
— Green will allow us to operate as near normal as possible, practicing social distancing and using shields.
­— Yellow will allow us to operate with required masking in all situations where possible.
Exemptions will be spelled out – i.e. – eating lunch, staff working alone.
— Red will force us into closing our buildings for 14-day quarantine intervals, where all will participate in distance learning similar to last spring.

Our re-entry plan will evolve as the medical data calls for us to make changes. Our students and staff will be protected in the best manner possible. Our access to the classroom buildings will be limited to students and staff, to reduce the opportunity for virus spread. Parents will always have the right to determine if they are comfortable sending their children to school.

The most current draft of the re-entry plan will be available for review on the school website by the end of the business day today, Friday, July 24.

The school board will review the plan — and receive public input during a special meeting on Tuesday, July 28, at 5:30 p.m., in the high school auditorium.

If you attend, please plan to wear a mask until seated in the auditorium. Please enter through the door leading to the west parking lot.

I am a grandparent, and I have loved ones entering school with nearly identical protections and protocols as those we are putting in place.

I promise you that the recommendations and decisions we make in the coming days and weeks will be made as if each child is my grandchild and each staff member is my brother or sister  — or, at my age — each staff member is my own child.

We will love each person unconditionally, and we will make each decision with the hope and promise that we are using the best information available to meet the educational needs, emotional needs, and social needs of the children we serve. Your thoughts and prayers are appreciated as we continue this journey.

Thank you in advance for your kindness and forgiveness as we stumble and try to get better every day.