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A decision no one wants to make

This week, the Beaufort County Board of Education faced a hard decision that impacts the lives of the school system’s students, staff and families — whether to continue remote learning or return students to the classroom. By a 5-4 vote, the group collectively decided Tuesday night that students will not return until at least Oct. 14.

The situation the Board of Education finds itself in is one of those uncomfortable moments of public service. An issue arises, in this case students returning to the classroom, and everybody in the community has an opinion. Whatever decision the board made, there would undoubtedly be those who are critical of the outcome.

For some in Beaufort County, returning students to the classroom is a necessity. Faced with a lack of childcare, challenges with structure, difficulties with online learning and a lack of socialization that children need to grow and thrive, the circumstances of the past six months have presented unprecedented hardships for local families.

For others, the idea of returning students to the classroom, even with proper health precautions in place, is a scary prospect. Doing so raises concerns about the spread of COVID-19, the health of students and staff and the potential that someone in the educational setting might bring home the virus to a vulnerable loved one. For the teachers, it means switching gears, with the possibility of having to return to remote learning if things don’t go as planned.

Whether you find yourself on one side, the other or somewhere in the middle, we all should remember that the board of education, Beaufort County Schools administrators, teachers and staff truly care about our children and are doing the best they can with the resources they have and the rules that are in place. In all cases, they have adapted to a new and challenging situation that no one could have imagined a year ago. For that, they should be commended.

As community members, the best thing we can do is exercise grace and patience as they navigate these challenges. Aside from that, be willing to help your neighbors as they do so, as well. Contact your child’s school and talk about what’s best for them and their learning. Build the strongest partnerships you can to make sure your child is successful.

As a community, there is no doubt we are facing one of the most difficult periods in recent memory. Most of us have had to roll with the punches as they come and adapt as best we can. In expressing criticism of school officials and educators, please remember that they have had to do the same.