A year ago, who could have imagined the once-routine opening of town pools and day camps would merit front-page news? That’s how far from normal our daily lives have veered because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now that summer is here, families are improvising their vacation itineraries, adjusting destinations and trip lengths to match the health risks that attend different options and modes of travel. Many teens are scrambling to find back-up jobs or just stay busy because their original plans have fallen through. And this period is a relatively easy stretch in our ongoing virus journey, compared to past months of lockdowns and far worse case numbers than we are seeing now.
The phased re-openings in New York State are gradually delivering a return of commercial and recreational outlets. We routinely check the list of permissible activities to see which ones have been expanded or added.
With each step forward, we feel just a little bit better.
The pattern of these incremental changes is strangely soothing. The state has told us what to expect at each stage, and that’s pretty much how the reopening scenario has played out. This aspect of handling the health crisis, at least, is evidence of good management and good state and local government. Predictability is not something COVID-19 has conditioned us to expect.
We should try our best to savor this July pause because it might be short-lived. Another big decision — whether and how to reopen schools in September — now looms over us. Whichever way that decision shakes out, the impacts and needed adjustments are going to be immense.
Again, state and local leaders are driving this central aspect of the reopening process. Scarsdale School District officials have mobilized a steering committee to consider the implications on the academic, emotional and social well-being of students, as well as the effects on family members and school staff. Edgemont this week joined a dozen other districts in the region in an effort to elicit community input on what school officials call “the re-entry process” in the fall; the online meet-up is reported on page 7.
School administrators have told Gov. Andrew Cuomo they need a month, at least, to prepare for the new school year. He announced this week that school districts interested in reopening have until July 31 to submit their plans. He said the state would make a decision on whether or not to open schools sometime between Aug. 1 and 7.
Gov. Cuomo said Wednesday, “We want to make that decision with the best available data. The facts change here day-to-day, week-to-week,” adding, “As we see, a week can be a lifetime with this COVID virus because everything changes so quickly.”
A clear signal from New York State in early August will give administrators the runway they need to launch a return to schools, in whatever form it takes, around Labor Day.
The bottom line, the governor said Wednesday, was this: “I am not going to ask anyone to put their child in a situation that I would not put my child in, and that’s how I make these decisions. If it’s not safe for my child, it’s not safe for your child. So, we’ll get the data and we’ll make that decision in August.”
For everyone in the school community who is going to be affected by the reopening decision, the governor’s data-driven approach could bring a little more predictability to the long, rocky road to recovery that lies ahead.
And who doesn’t need that?