Let’s start by agreeing there is no right answer to reopening elementary schools in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. But with a bit of trial and error, push and pushback, Forest Park’s District 91 schools have partially reopened classrooms beginning this week.

It will be a gradual process of adding grade levels to the opening plan in the coming weeks. The youngest children in each grade center began to return on Feb. 8. It will be gradual as classroom hours are limited to three mornings per week. And it will be gradual because the district has wisely and inevitably offered families the options of a return to classrooms or sticking with full remote learning at this time. Fascinating that the choice made by families is almost exactly 50-50 on a return to in-person learning.

In addition, to attempt to keep students on the same learning path, classroom instruction will continue to be observed by in-person students on their school-issued computers.

Seems odd. And seemingly everyone agrees that it is imperfect in a year where imperfect looks better than most alternatives.

This has been a good job by the school administration and board, by teachers and their leadership, by the community center and park district which continue to serve families of essential workers, and, overall, for our families facing near total disruption since students were last in class back in April 2020. 

With masks and social distancing built in, with custodial staff cleansing the buildings frequently, with, hopefully, vaccines coming soon for teachers, this can work.