Our Opinion: Doing the best they can
Finally, the whole of Austin is back in school again, and as much as anybody else, we sincerely hope they can make it through an entire school year.
Through surveys conducted by Austin Public Schools, there was an overwhelming desire by parents, teachers and students to be back in the classroom.
At Pacelli Catholic Schools, there was little question on all fronts they would be returning, ensuring the best they can the safety of its own staff and students, bolstered by a smaller population that makes social distancing easier.
While there have been bumps, the return to in-person education has brought a bit of optimism in a year filled to the brim with pessimism.
The overall joy has been incredibly uplifting as Pacelli Principal Kane Malo was enthusiastic about getting back to the family atmosphere that holds the school together.
At Southgate Elementary last Wednesday, smiles of the teachers to see their students added a little extra sun to the day and last, but certainly not least, the students who were thrilled to be seeing friends and teachers again.
Dare we say, it was a welcome taste of the old normal, despite the masks.
We can’t leave Palmer Bus Service out of this equation either. By now, the difficulties experienced last week in terms of getting kids to their proper schools are fairly well known.
Faced with a shortage of drivers, who opted out of driving buses because of COVID-19 concerns, Palmer faced a mountain of a task in bussing children, made no less difficult by the staggered schedule they needed to adopt because of capacity regulations not exceeding 50 percent for each bus.
Inevitably, when these two things were brought together, there would be problems. And there still might be more, but the company has worked to do all it can to ensure the schedule runs as smooth as possible, including bringing in drivers from outside of Austin.
We urge parents to show patience in the light of such an extraordinary situation.
All in all, the beginning of a school year is a time of optimism as we all get back to some semblance of normal, even if that means six feet and masks.
It is commendable how Austin and Pacelli have worked to ensure that students, teachers and staff are safe and back where they want to be.
To ensure they stay there, it’s worth reminding us all to continue taking those steps in combating COVID-19 that have kept our numbers at a point where Austin (Pacelli is not guided by the State of Minnesota) can remain in classrooms.
These continued low numbers are because, for the most part, Austin and Mower County are doing what they need to so that in-person learning remains an option.
It truly shows we are all in this together.