Our Opinion: Back to school at last

It’s hard to argue the best place for our children to learn is in person, with their teachers at the school.


It’s not all the way back, but Tuesday, Feb. 16, nonetheless should be viewed as a milestone day for Brainerd Public Schools.

On that day, sixth through 12th graders will be returning to in-person classes at their respective schools after about three months at home in distance learning. Those students will be joining those in lower grades who returned earlier in the month.

We’re certain teachers and parents are celebrating, and we hope kids are, too. It’s been a long time since students and teachers have seen each other face to face. Distance learning worked, but it can’t replace the real thing for myriad reasons — hands-on instruction, learning in a structured environment, social interaction with people outside the household, to name a few.

Yes, it will still be in a hybrid model, meaning students will not be in class every day of the week, but hopefully it’s a start to getting our children back in school full time.

Kudos to the kids for making it through distance learning. It couldn’t have been easy but we hope most of you were able to adapt well enough to continue your education and academic growth.


Kudos to parents and other caregivers for their sacrifices in helping their kids. Managing a home and work during a pandemic took on a new tilt when your children’s schooling was thrown into the mix.

And kudos to teachers and school district officials for learning on the fly on how to operate in distance learning, and making changes where they needed to be made. It was like reinventing the wheel and, despite some bumps in the road, it worked. Your students continued to learn under your guidance, even if it was done so through Google.

It’s hard to argue the best place for our children to learn is in person, with their teachers at the school. But distance learning as an idea worked and we hope the district will take its successes — Google Classrooms for assignments, pretaped videos for instruction, Google Meets for teaching — and continue them in some form into the future.

Certainly, the danger of COVID-19 is still hanging over all of us, including our schools, and it's something we shouldn’t take lightly. We wholeheartedly agree with Superintendent Laine Larson, who urged school families, students and staff to keep wearing face masks, maintain social distancing, wash hands frequently and use caution with activities outside a school setting.

“Our deepest desire is to keep students learning in-person and directly with their teachers. In an effort to do this, we must remain diligent at slowing the spread of COVID-19 when in school and out in the public,” Larson wrote in a letter to families.

That’s exactly what we all want, too. We have a way to go to get where we want, but if we maintain our vigilance we’ll continue taking steps in the right direction. Tuesday is proof of that.

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