Blunt visit reinforces need for kids to be in school

Blunt visit reinforces need for kids to be in school

We are nearing the end of the school year with events like prom and commencement to be held in the coming weeks. What a difference one year can make.

Last spring, Southeast Missouri students were forced to learn virtually and many missed out or had to make alternative, COVID-safe arrangements for these rights of passage.

Thankfully, students this year have been able to remain in the classroom for the most part -- with virtual options made available to those most at risk or who felt more confortable doing so. Overall, it's been a success.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt was in town last week to participate in a discussion with teachers, administrators, staff and other local officials about the pandemic's affect on the Cape Girardeau Public School District.

"I don't think there is any substitute for being face-to-face," Cape Girardeau superintendent Neil Glass said. "Virtual learning will never fill that void. If anything, it's a tool in the tool box."

Blunt praised the Cape Girardeau School District's approach, which centered on in-person learning while making the virtual Tigers@Home program available. As the year progressed, more students transitioned from virtual to in-person instruction.

In Southeast Missouri, we've started to take for granted that students have basically been in school all year. That hasn't been -- and still isn't -- the case for many elsewhere in the United States. It's unfortunate and, quite frankly, unnecessary. This area has proved kids can return to the classroom safely, and especially so now with the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to adults who are the ones most at risk.

It's important for children to be in school, learning and socializing with their friends. Not only is it vital to their educational progress, it's so important for their mental health and general wellbeing. Schools in Southeast Missouri realized this and helped make the 2020-2021 school year as normal as possible. Hats off to our local school leaders, teachers and staff who navigated a challenging year. We're rooting for you to finish strong.