Last fall when Johnson County schools announced their plans to fully open in-school learning, no one knew whether this grand experiment would last weeks or months. Few, including parents, kids, teachers or administrators would have bet we would still be in the schools at this point.
But, here we are, nearly to the spring quarter and kids and teachers are still in classrooms.
At a time when many schools across the nation are still distance learning or arguing about how to return to hybrid learning, our students have been in the classroom with their peers and teachers. Our students have participated in activities, sports and other extracurriculars since mid-August.
The school year has not been without its challenges. Things looked particularly bleak in late November when cases spiked and Johnson County had one of the highest per capita rates of infection in the nation. Teacher quarantines made finding substitutes a challenge. But our schools all pulled together with teachers using their planning periods to cover for other absent teachers. Our schools continued to follow best practices of masking up and social distancing in an effort to keep schools open. And teachers spent precious time cleaning and sanitizing and then cleaning some more.
To date, no local outbreaks of coronavirus have been attributed to the schools, and as infections have dropped precipitously in recent weeks, it appears our kids will complete the year in school.
The success for remaining in schools can be attributed to a belief in science and the positive effects of mask wearing. The schools have been diligent in requiring masks whenever social distancing could not be achieved.
Recently, all COVID-related county health restrictions were removed at the request of the Johnson County Commissioners. Yet, the school has remained steadfast that masks will still be required on all school campuses.
Rightfully so. We’ve made it this far, and, quite honestly, it has worked.
The community owes a huge debt of gratitude to teachers and staff who stayed the course, risking their own health during this experiment to see if we could safely achieve in-school learning. Administrators and school board members should also be thanked for working together and fighting for what is best for our children: in-school learning. And finally, thanks to the kids for following the rules to ensure that the schools could stay open.
Johnson County School District’s grit and determination provide an important example of what can be achieved through diligence and working together.