This has been a turbulent last few months with the COVID-19 virus for us at Lakeside. Our schools are all located in Montgomery County and we were one of the last Pennsylvania counties to reopen. For a season we saw a temporary reprieve and now we are seeing a national resurgence. The numbers of COVID-19 positives have gradually risen and many of our regional school districts are reconsidering their reopening plans. Some are going to begin with total online education, others will be live, in-school and yet others will take a hybrid approach where students will be going to school on alternate days and take their courses onine on other days.
The reality is that we really don’t know what our status will be in a month’s time. At Lakeside we are working diligently to provide for the needs of our students who more than most need social interaction with their counselors and teachers since they have specific life struggles. We are working with many regional school districts to provide education and counseling to the students who have not done well emotionally through this extremely difficult phase of the pandemic. I would agree that the isolation has not helped many students who have struggled with significant life adversities.
Lakeside is releasing its Health and Safety Plans for each of its schools this week. We are taking extreme precautions to make sure our staff and students are safe. Our vans will be sanitized after every run. We will increase our cleaning staff to clean our facilities more regularly. We have purchased special sanitizing spray equipment. We are socially distancing our students. There will be lunch but not in any cafeteria type settings. We are establishing a series of protocols for staff and students to make sure any symptomatic individuals will be quarantined. We will be checking students for temperature, symptoms and any exposure prior to allowing them on our vans. For more information you may read our Health and Safety Plans on www.lakesidelink.com.
We live in a world where there are costs to every decision. Online education may feel safe for many students but for others there are consequences that are devastating from a mental health perspective when they cannot see their counselors or be in their support groups. The problems are very complex and school administrators need a great deal of wisdom in order to manage the struggles of reopening while meeting the needs of our students. I think we are all concerned and very careful about every decision we make and the potential consequences to all those who will be affected.
We are hopeful that COVID-19 will be overcome soon by our preventive measures, by social distancing, by the use of masks, by treatment and eventually a vaccine. Until then we will be working diligently to bring back as much normalcy to our students as possible. We will also be as cautious as we need to keep our school environments healthy, sanitized and safe.
It will be quite a process with a lot of twists and turns. However we are willing to accept the challenge and responsibility as we enter this 2020-21 school year.