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OUR OPINION: New school year starts with lots of questions
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OUR OPINION: New school year starts with lots of questions

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2021 back to school night

Students line up to pick up books during back to school night activities held Thursday at Sioux City's Loess Hills Elementary School. Classes begin on Monday for students in Sioux City and many other districts.

To mask or not to mask?

In-person or online learning?

Quarantine or not? 

Questions continue to swirl around the 2021-22 school year, even now, just as we’re about to start.

No doubt the first weeks will bring challenges that teachers, students and administrators didn’t expect.

But the last two years have taught us plenty about resilience, determination and acceptance. Thanks to COVID-19, we learned how to adapt and pivot. Now, change is practically the new normal.

What we didn’t expect this year: A shortage of bus drivers in some districts.

What hasn’t changed: A need to follow rules. If you get behind a school bus with flashing lights, obey the stop signs and yield to students. It's not only the safe thing to do, it's the law. If you need to rush to and from work, get an earlier start.

What we didn’t expect this year: Mental health concerns worsened by the pandemic.

What hasn’t changed: Students have always been apprehensive about those early days of a school year. Be mindful of their situations and try to help.

What we didn’t expect this year: Mask controversies.

What hasn’t changed: People with compromised immune systems have always worn masks in public. No matter how you feel about masks, don’t try to bully students who wear or don't wear one.

What we didn’t expect this year: Learning losses among some students after having to endure long periods of not being in the classroom with teachers and other students.

What hasn’t changed: Students learn at different rates. What we need to remember is some may not have experienced what we considered “normal.” Be helpful.

The excitement of the first day of school is still something to celebrate. New teachers. New school supplies. New opportunities.

Like those in school, approach this year with an open mind. Even if you don’t have someone in the mix, think how you might feel in the circumstances. Support is something everyone wants and appreciates.

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