Editorial: Back to school, Easy on the faucet
In this summer like no other, some stores are already spotlighting “Back to School” displays.
Who knew a sign could seem simultaneously hopeful and sardonic?
If anything stands poised to symbolize life returning to normal, it would be the first day of school in Connecticut. Most people would surely like to see that happen, but the COVID-19 pandemic stubbornly refuses to follow any script.
“We are not going back to normal by any stretch of the imagination,” Commissioner of Education Miguel Cardona has warned.
Gov. Ned Lamont and his team are wisely trying to give parents and educators time to prepare by announcing last week they hope to reopen public schools for in-person learning in September. (See our story on page A3.)
It will not — cannot — look like anything we’ve seen before. The shuttering of schools three months ago did not happen gradually. There were no masks or social distancing protocols before students were dismissed.
We’ll see those things, and much more, for the first time in our lifetimes if things go as Lamont plans. Some of the details sound like standard operating procedure, such as maintaining a five-day week and 180-day school year. But try to conjure the image of all those students of all ages in masks.
Last week’s announcement was followed Monday by a more detailed plan, which can be read about on page A1. It offers some “musts” but also gives districts some discretion.
Getting children back to school is important. Although Wilton school officials and teachers undertook a Herculean task to institute remote learning — something none of them had to think about at the beginning of the calendar year — everyone agrees this is not a preferred way of teaching children. It’s true, as Superintendent Kevin Smith said at the last Board of Education meeting, remote learning will still be part of the back-to-school package, particularly for students and teachers who cannot or do not feel comfortable returning in person. But the kind of education Wilton is known for — and strives for — is best delivered in a real, not a virtual, classroom.
Figuring out how to accommodate everyone under the cloud of COVID-19 may be even more challenging than figuring out how to deal with the sudden closure of schools in March. On the positive side, Connecticut is among only a handful of states leading the nation in suppressing the spread of the coronavirus. If — and it’s a big if — residents continue to take the spread of the illness seriously and practice social distancing and wear their masks, it could give the district a leg up in protecting children when they return at the end of August.
These remaining weeks will test everyone, from the state to the community level. Caution needs to be the watchword because this singular event does not offer the benefit of history’s lessons.
Easy on the faucet
Ironically, shortly after both Aquarion Water Company and South Norwalk Electric and Water urged water conservation, it started to rain. But it pays to remember, a few days of rain does not solve the problem of drier-than-normal weather patterns.
Aquarion said it is experiencing near-record water demands and has hit its first drought trigger in this part of Fairfield County. No doubt some beautiful hot and sunny weather caused more water to be used, but in general, it’s the lawn sprinklers that are a big culprit. That prompted the company to issue water usage restrictions in six towns. Wilton was not included, but it’s a good idea to remember in a town where so many homes are on large, lush lots that a little brown grass is not a sin.
Water is a precious resource and whether we are on a public supply or a private well, we should not waste it. Consider hand watering those vegetables and prized specimens you can’t afford to lose and let everything else fend for itself.
Detailed tips on water conservation may be found at snew.org and aquarionwater.com.