Area school officials deserve credit for their careful and thoughtful discussions about how best to return students to the classroom.

The Teutopolis Unit 50 School District is surveying parents and staff for input on procedures for reopening its schools to in-person learning.

We think that’s wise, and encourage other districts to do the same if they are not already doing that.

A recent discussion by Altamont Unit 10 board members illustrated the complexity of the guidelines set forth by the state.

“We try to follow rules and regulations to the best of our ability,” said Board President Shelly Kuhns. “We’re going to do our best and be as realistic as we can.”

Kuhns said Altamont will distribute guidelines to parents when they register their children.

We think that’s wise, and encourage other districts to do the same if they are not already planning to do that.

Effingham Unit 40 Superintendent Mark Doan said families in that district will likely have the option of sending their children to in-person school or to stay with remote learning.

“I expect we will have some families who will not want to send their children (to in-person school), whether that be for a medical issue or concern,” Doan told his school board.

We think that’s wise, and encourage other districts to do the same if they are not already planning to do that.

COVID-19 has caused such upheaval, it’s almost hard to imagine that time when things will get back to normal.

Even returning our children to school will bring up issues that can’t yet be anticipated. But the discussions so far are encouraging. We trust our local officials to quickly identify any such hurdles and find ways to safely overcome them. We encourage parents to lend their voices to the discussion.

Health and safety should rule. There has been a lot of boisterous talk from afar — Washington and Springfield — about what we should do and when we should do it. But if ever there was a time for our local leaders to step up, it is now.

They know the situation in our community better than anyone. They know what can be done safely and what can’t be done safely. They know what our local health officials are reporting. They hear what parents, teachers and staff tell them.

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