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Be ready for the start of school

The crispness in the morning air, the leaves beginning to show signs of color and the store shelves emptying of paper, pencils and book bags are signs that fall is rapidly approaching and with it the start of a new school year.

By this time next week, the lazy days of summer will be over for area students and their families, replaced by the daily routines of school, homework and after school activities.

For many, the new school year brings with it the return to comfortable routines with class schedules returning to pre-pandemic normals. The masks, assigned seating at lunch tables and forced separation of students in classrooms will all be set aside, at least for now.

Everyone hopes that COVID-19 and its growing number of variants will only have a glancing blow to the region. School leaders must always prepare for the worst and have plans in place on how to balance public safety with the commitment to keeping school open every day for the parents and students who rely on it. For every voice that wants to take away all levels of precautions, there are those equally passionate critical of what they see as a reckless disregard for the dangers. School leaders, from the board of education to classroom teachers, walk a razor’s edge in balancing those concerns.

Like the rest of us, they are trying to do their best in balancing risks and a desire for things to be “normal.” Parents, families and community members need to keep this in mind when they disagree with decisions made or mandates imposed. With stress already at high levels, remember the old adage that a smile will get you a lot further in life than a frown. Approach situations looking for solutions and common ground rather than casting everything into a scorched-earth, us versus them battle to the death.

The start of the school year impacts the entire community. Retailers and restaurant owners are losing their summer workers and are scrambling to fill shifts, drivers are adding school buses with their multiple stops as part of their morning commutes. Stopping for your morning cup of coffee or to fill up your gas tank might take longer with more people on the road. Plan accordingly so that you can get to work on time and safely.

Customers must continue to have patience with workers spread thin who are doing the best they can. Patience is likewise a virtue on the roads. Rather than waiting until the last minute to leave home for work, plan extra time knowing that traffic will be increased and that school buses will be making stops to pick up and drop off students.

The start of the school year is a time to readjust schedules and attitudes. As with any year, there will be challenges and opportunities for the students and their families. As a community we must be supportive and remember that lessons learned now build the foundations for the future of the community, country and world.