Posted Date: 08/03/2020
Districts that plan to return to school in person must tackle a host of logistical issues in the next few weeks while also weighing the possibility that a worsening pandemic could jeopardize those plans.
Union Pubic Schools is one of several local districts aiming to have students and teachers back in class later this month — though not in a traditional sense.
Preparation for such an unorthodox return to school is consuming, and administrators are running out of time to ensure everything goes smoothly as the start date ticks closer and closer.
Then there’s the other problem: What if health officials collectively decide it’s too dangerous to reopen school? At this point, Union Superintendent Kirt Hartzler isn’t confident his district will be able to proceed with its plans, as the longevity and severity of the COVID-19 pandemic remain uncertain. He said the district will pivot to distance learning if it needs to between now and the start of school Aug. 24.
“It’s frustrating to think about that you’re putting a lot of work into trying to get students back in school in person and then knowing all of the sudden that if COVID numbers do not improve and health officials say you should not be in school, then it’s not going to happen,” Hartzler said.
Until that moment comes, however, the district will carry on with its reopening plan. There are a lot of moving parts to get schools back up and running, and setbacks are plentiful.
For instance, Hartzler said Union has learned some of its food suppliers are experiencing delays, creating all sorts of logistical issues in the Child Nutrition Department.
The superintendent also worries about having enough substitutes to step in for employees who may be exposed to COVID-19.
“A serious concern keeping me up at night is, how do we manage the mobility that we know we’re going to have to deal with?” Hartzler said.