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Enough of the wait-and-see

Several weeks ago, area school district administrators told us they were being advised that school might not be allowed to resume this fall until Oct. 1. Now, with no new information coming on more extensions of the coronavirus closures, they are looking at options that may include starting classes earlier than the usual Sept. 1 allowable date.

Late start? Early start? Anyone else confused?

When all state schools were suddenly ordered closed in mid-March when the first COVID-19 wave swept into Wisconsin, no one knew how long it might last. School officials were first thinking a few weeks, maybe a month, but as the number of illness cases grew -- mainly in the southeastern heavily populated corner of the state -- it became obvious there would be no more in-person classes for the 2019-20 school year. So be it, it was for public health, and that’s all in the past now.

But the 2020-21 school year looms, and if there is anything that is needed, it is clarity. What will happen come late August/early September? Should schools plan to resume classes with children and teachers together, or should they be planning and developing more virtual lessons? The time they need to know that is like, right about now.

What schools are getting from state leaders is more, “Well, we’re gonna’ wait a while and see how this all shakes out.” Granted, this is new territory, no one alive today has waded through the confusion of a global virus outbreak before, but courageous, robust leadership is the best thing we can think of to chart a path forward.

As one administrator told us this week, “Any answer is OK, as long as it’s an answer.” Administrators need to know for what to plan, teachers need to know, families need to know, children need to know if the big yellow bus will come this fall or if they’ll be propped up in front of Chromebooks for a while longer. Even if they don’t all like what they hear, at least a solid plan from above is something on which to lean in a precarious time.

So, Madison, enough of the wait-andsee approach. A second coronavirus wave might come, it might not. Take the best scientific and medical advice available, make a call on what the state plans to do, and let those who have to implement it get to work.

Not knowing what to do, in this case, is far worse than just having to do it.