Johnson County School District No. 1 administrators had two pieces of good news to share at this month’s school board meeting. First, while the district’s elementary school-aged children did lose some reading proficiency related to the move to at-home schooling last spring, the losses were not as great as some educators had feared they might be. And second, most students appear to be closing those gaps and reading proficiency is on the rebound.

That’s a credit to our district teachers, paraprofessionals, students, administrators and parents, all of whom worked together in new and unique ways last spring to keep kids reading and engaged in learning. 

It’s also a potent and timely reminder that kids do their best learning in-person, in schools. 

To that end, Johnson County schools have done a tremendous job in ensuring that they remain open and safe during this pandemic. By mandating safety measures, including proper hygiene, social distancing when possible and proper masking, our schools have avoided catastrophic super-spreading events that have closed schools in other parts of the country and world. The school board, administrators and teachers all deserve credit for following the science on coronavirus and maintaining these restrictions to keep our schools open and operating. And, they have been hugely successful. Who would have thought at the beginning of the school year that Johnson County children would still attending in-person classes?

At this point in the pandemic, we know there is a certain amount of fatigue with the rules and restrictions we are living with. We know that it’s tempting to think that with the arrival of the vaccine, things will soon return to normal.

The reality is that with the new variants of the virus that have popped up and the limited supply of vaccines, this is no time to become complacent. If we want to keep kids in schools, and for many people in the community that is priority No. 1, we need to remain vigilant in wearing masks in public, practicing good hygiene and limiting social contacts.

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