‘What I still find most difficult to deal with is the constant unknowns, the constant uncertainties’ Piera Gravenor, the school superintendent, was optimistic about the next school year in June as COVID-19 instances decreased and the vaccination rate increased.
Gravenor, the superintendent of the Delsea Regional School District in New Jersey, said, “I was actually pretty excited to have a normal, non-eventful year.” “What a blunder. At the end of last school year, I let out a small sigh.”
Rising COVID cases spurred by the delta variant, shifting public health guidelines, and a new state mandate for masks inside all school buildings arrived just as school leaders were gathering their breath after the extraordinary 2020-21 school year.
During the epidemic, Gravenor and the 200 staff members in her 1,700-student district had already completed 15 months of schooling. Instead of having an all-remote start last year, which led to hybrid instruction, the aim this year is to have a wholly in-person start.
Nonetheless, for the superintendent, August 2021 feels a lot like August 2020. Gravenor, who is also the superintendent of Elk Township School District, which serves kindergarten through sixth graders, said, “What I still find most difficult to deal with is the constant unknowns, the constant uncertainties.” Welcome to the school year 2021-2022, another master class on pandemic stress.
Educators told MarketWatch weeks before the start of the new school year that mask rules, the role — if any — of staff vaccine requirements, and a labor shortage are among the plot lines that lie ahead.
To be sure, these issues are currently being debated in a variety of workplaces. Many businesses, though, can adjust their return-to-work plans, postpone them, or continue with remote models. The shot is also available to the adult workforce.
To mask or not to mask, that is the question.
According to the latest guideline from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone should be masked within schools, regardless of vaccination status. Now try persuading everyone to follow that path, from governors to local school board members.
Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah are among the states that claim schools cannot impose masking. With their own mask mandates, several school districts, such as Dallas and Austin, are ignoring state regulations.