Greene: Too soon to know what reopening schools will look like

I first want to say thank you to all our students and families in Polk County. We have all dealt with a great deal of uncertainty over the past two months. We are doing the best we can to navigate all the changing guidance and serve our community. We appreciate the patience and support we have received from everyone. Polk County is such a special place.

One of the main things the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) and the Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) are currently working on is what school will look like this fall. There are state committees and groups working on the various questions and issues related to safely reopening schools here in North Carolina, and they are only beginning to build the reopening plan. To date we have not received any official guidance or rules from our state government regarding what schools will be specifically required to do to reopen.

You may have already seen the latest CDC reopening guidance, or perhaps you have looked at other states’ plans regarding school this fall. I want to say again that we have not received any final version or rules on a reopening plan. I do not anticipate any type of clear guidance for the immediate future. Ultimately we are committed to doing all we can to reopen safely and successfully this fall within the rules and guidance we are given.

My advice to everyone at this point is consistent with what we have said all along – let’s be patient and wait for the decisions to be made before we react to possibilities. Our Board of Education and district leaders have to engage in some speculation on what is to come so we can provide input, help our state leaders understand the challenges and problems that we face, and be prepared to handle changes or unforeseen issues.

The CDC is trying to assist states, cities and school districts by issuing broad guidance for consideration across the entire country. Making a plan that fits every district and situation is impossible, just like comparing New York City’s schools to Polk County Schools is impossible. We simply have to wait for things to be decided and filtered through our own state’s agencies like DHHS and DPI. Until then, everything we might talk about or say would be speculation. As hard as it is not to worry right now, I think getting frustrated or upset about what might happen before we really know would not be very productive. It will only cause more anxiety, of which we already have plenty.

With that being said, I do think we will see some procedural precautions and changes to operations to keep our students, families and staff members safe. Just as we have seen in stores and other public places, there will need to be thought given to how we gather, interact, and how we deal with students and staff who may become ill. We are thinking ahead, we are concerned about keeping everyone safe and we are awaiting the guidance and rules that will inevitably come from the state agencies that support and govern our work. As we start to receive more concrete information that we can release, we will update everyone.

For now, please enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend. Put down Missouri’s reopening plan and understand that even the CDC guidance is constantly changing and will likely look different come August. As a wise mentor once told me, “Aaron, don’t freak out until it’s time to freak out.”

No matter what is decided, Polk County Schools will be right here ready to serve our students and families in the safest and most productive way possible. Better days are ahead.

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