Back to school, with the hope of back to normal

Posted 8/24/21

It’s common for students and staff to feel back-to-school butterflies as a new year begins, but the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened those anxieties. 

As the first day of school arrives …

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Back to school, with the hope of back to normal

Posted

It’s common for students and staff to feel back-to-school butterflies as a new year begins, but the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened those anxieties. 

As the first day of school arrives today (Tuesday) in Park County School District 1, we all hope for a more normal year. Students benefit when they’re in the classroom, receiving in-person instruction and support. Kids also thrive when they’re involved in sports and other extracurricular activities — and the community benefits as well.

We’re proud of the ways Park 1 leaders and staff worked hard to keep schools open and activities available during the 2020-21 school year. Many districts across the country did not open fully last year, and we can be thankful for the full — albeit challenging — year local schools offered.

Park 1 Superintendent Jay Curtis said the hope is that the 2021-22 school year will “start about where we ended [last year], which is as close to normal as we can get in the buildings.”

Local schools finished the spring without a mask mandate, and similarly, the new year is beginning with face coverings as a choice, not a requirement. That’s true for Northwest College as well.

Masks may not be required, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to let your guard down completely. Cases of COVID-19 are rising in our community and the disease remains a threat — especially for older residents, those with weakened immune systems and people who are unvaccinated. 

Unfortunately, doctors are now seeing “a significant increase” in COVID cases among kids under 18, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“With the delta variant, we are seeing an increased number of cases amongst children,” said Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse with the Mayo Clinic Children’s Center on Aug. 13. “...The most important thing we can do to protect kids under 12 who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated themselves is to ensure that as many people who are around them and who are interacting with them are vaccinated.”

A year ago at this time, we only hoped for a vaccine, and relied on social distancing, handwashing, masks and other measures. Those precautions are still important tools, but getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19.

If you need proof, just look at the numbers from this summer. Of the 372 people infected with COVID in Park County between May 1 and Aug. 6, only 2.2% of them were fully immunized, according to County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin. That means about 98% of local cases were among unvaccinated people.

We all want the back-to-school season to signify back-to-normal life. Getting immunized through a simple and free vaccine is the best way to ensure students, educators and the community can enjoy a healthy and normal school year.

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