EDITORIAL: Lamont lends more flexibilty to opening schools

EDITORIAL: Lamont lends more flexibilty to opening schools

“We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, but let us not forget for a moment the toils and efforts that lie ahead.”

That’s what British Prime Minister Winston Churchill told his people on V-E Day, while delirious crowds were celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany. But he felt the need to be the wet blanket on that party, lest people forget how much blood, sweat and tears might lie ahead before the defeat of Japan.

Now we are at a nodal point in the war against the coronavirus, and Connecticut has done well — better than most states in terms of our low transmission and positive-test rates.

In fact, that information moved Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, an oncologist and former White House adviser, to write this in a recent New York Times op-ed: “How do you get to a lower transmission rate? The exact way Connecticut has done it.” Connecticut, he said, is in “a perfect place to open up its schools, given its low transmission rate and low positivity.”

But after allowing ourselves a brief period of patting ourselves on the back for doing the right things and flattening the initial viral curve, we need to concentrate on the job now at hand: opening the schools safely.

On that front, Gov. Ned Lamont recently announced that local school officials will have more flexibility to decide the mix of in-school learning and online learning and whether any changes should be made if there's an uptick in COVID-19 cases in their county.

This will be guided by metrics, Lamont said. “If there's a spike in infections, there's a surge in hospitalizations, at that point we're going to be in a strong position to change course and get people in a different type of educational environment.”

However, if a school system wants to go to distance learning only, it will need approval from Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona.

Lamont had initially required all school districts to come up with plans for in-school learning, online learning and a hybrid model. But he said many superintendents were asking for more flexibility.

We’re not out of the woods yet — this is still 2020, the year of “the new abnormal” — but our state is doing better than most, and that is something for which we may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing, as well as at least a small measure of pride.

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