I find it striking that education during the pandemic hasn’t come up more often as an issue in election debates or in candidate materials, because so many people I meet mention it. The main concern? Many feel that while schools, teachers and parents are making the best of a difficult situation, months of distance learning have slowed their children’s progress, and they worry about how they’ll catch up when everyone is consistently back at school full-time.

Fortunately, while the state has provided public health guidance for the pandemic, it has acknowledged that local districts know best how to manage academic and scheduling issues. That shouldn’t change when full-time school resumes.

This is why I want to introduce legislation requiring the state to give districts post-pandemic flexibility for a limited period to help students close learning gaps and move forward with their education on schedule.

What might this entail? Options, not mandates. Like allowing districts to adjust schedules and calendars to provide more hours of instruction in essential skills like reading, writing, and math. Allowing local curriculum adjustments. For example, in districts with many English language learners, increasing the proportion of language acquisition classes. Making designated funds available to districts that need extra resources and staff to provide intensive individualized help to special needs students.

Schools and families are doing their best to sustain the pace of learning, but most agree that distance instruction is no substitute for in-person contact. Ensuring educational continuity when circumstances improve must be a priority everywhere. As always, each district has specific local needs, and local school boards, educators, and parents know best how to meet them. My goal, if you elect me as your representative, is to ensure that you can do locally whatever it takes to help students get back and stay on track.

Patrizia Zucaro is the Republican and Independent Party candidate for State Representative of the 143rd district which includes portions of Wilton, Westport and Norwalk.