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Bozeman School Board members are under a lot of stress. That stress manifests itself in the pressure the trustees exerted on school administrators to specify exactly how and when the schools can return to full-time, face-to-face instruction.

And one can understand why they are anxious for answers. They must be hearing nonstop from constituents expressing the gamut of emotions from nervousness to anger over plans to open schools this week with only two days of in-classroom instruction per week and the other three days online.

And those emotions are more than justified. There are definite risks with reopening the schools. Though children would likely recover from a coronavirus infection, an outbreak could mean children could come home from class and infect other family members who are susceptible to serious complications. And just two days of school in the classroom is saddling parents with serious childcare challenges for the rest of the week.

But those parents and the trustees are urged to muster as much patience as they can. No one can say with any certainty what’s coming next.

Even with the abundance of caution school administrators are taking with reopening schools, a serious outbreak of the virus could force abandoning classroom instruction altogether. In other states that have already opened schools, there have been some troubling rates of infection that are forcing administrators to retreat from plans for full-time resumption of classes.

And let’s keep our fingers crossed. The virus may be held at bay sufficiently to increase face-to-face instruction time over the coming months – even to a full-time, five-day-a-week schedule.

Bozeman School Superintendent Bob Connors – working with local health authorities – has provided the board with rate-of-infection metrics that will determine the next course of action. That could be returning to full-time classroom instruction or going to all remote learning. While those metrics provide parents and board members with some guidance on what can be expected, all involved are strongly urged to remain flexible and patient over the coming weeks and months.

Let’s bear in mind: We’ve never been here before. We’ve never sent children to school during a global pandemic before.

And we only have one chance to get it right.

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Editorial Board

  • Mark Dobie, publisher
  • Nick Ehli, managing editor
  • Bill Wilke, opinion page editor
  • Richard Broome, community member
  • Renee Gavin, community member
  • Will Swearingen, community member
  • Angie Wasia, community member

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