Editorial: CT back to school checklist item No. 1 — Get vaxxed

Education illustration

Education illustration

Mark Weber

Let’s have a fifth-grade history lesson, circa 2062.

Teachers bring guest speakers of a certain age to share with students the stories of what school life was like back in the early ‘20s, when everyone was temporarily home-schooled before returning to the classroom in masks and following social distancing protocols.

Yes, today’s students are tomorrow’s historians, akin to survivors of the Depression or World War II. They will have stories to tell (all the more reason to take accurate notes now).

Given all the Sturm und Drang over classroom history these days, we can only hope there are no objections to such reflections in 40 years. For the lessons of daily life in turbulent times can be the most important ones of all.

The 2022-23 school year kicks off considerably differently than its two predecessors.

“We’re really in this wait-and-see moment,” Connecticut Education Association President Kate Dias said. “We’re getting guidance that says this can be treated differently than past strains of COVID. We’re in a post-pandemic framework to some extent.”

We’ve waited before. We’ve seen before. And it’s taught us to be cautious. As the last two summers folded into autumn in 1920 and 1921, COVID figures only spiked as children returned to classrooms.

They will probably be another jump in coming weeks. Yes, there is a milder variant, but we can still do without it becoming as common as the cold.

Officially, Connecticut recently dropped below 3,500 weekly cases. But those figures are shaky barometers these days, as home kits have become commonplace.

Parents and educators will be the first to contextualize the fall 2022 edition of COVID. As schools open, families will go through a fresh cycle of determining when it’s appropriate to send kids to school.

This year, mild cold symptoms with a negative COVID test gets a green light. Parents, of course, have different definitions of “mild cold.” We’ve known for generations preceding the pandemic that plenty of children are put on the bus wheezing and leaking like busted air-conditioners.

Many people have noticed that suffering from colds and the flu became less commonplace over the last couple years. We’re dubious that lesson will resonate.

Still, as Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Public Health have removed restrictions, they urge that students wear masks if they have symptoms but test negative.

Even if weary parents choose to forgo such protocols, many schools continue to strive for responsible practices by offering tests and hosting vaccination clinics.

As vaccination costs around the nation shift from being federally funded to insurance carriers, we can also probably expect future showdowns at local Board of Education meetings over which costs should transfer to taxpayers.

We don’t really have past lessons to learn from, but can at least set a good example for those students circa 2062. One item on the back to school checklist remains unique to this era, but is even more important than pencils: Get vaccinated.

Others are timeless: Show appreciation for teachers. Respect the choices of peers. Do that homework.

And don’t go to school sick.