‘Impossible’: School boards are at heart of reopening debate

Education

ROCK HILL, S.C. (AP) — School boards nationwide are facing what one South Carolina leader calls an impossible decision.

It’s a simple question: Do we return to school amid the coronavirus pandemic?

But officials say there are no right or easy answers. In Rock Hill, South Carolina, trustees pored through policy documents and had dozens of hours of discussions.

Rock Hill School Board member Terry Hutchinson gets his temperature checked before a meeting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Like school boards across the nation, Rock Hill’s board has had to answer the simple question when do children return to school with no easy or guaranteed safe answer. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

Members ultimately decided to split students into groups and stagger in-person days at school.

Board chairwoman Helena Miller called it the hardest decision of her life, involving sleepless nights with the safety of 17,000 students on her mind.

Rock Hill School Board member Terry Hutchinson takes a picture of board chairwoman Helena Miller, left, and Windy Cole, right, in their matching masks during a break at the board’s meeting in Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Like school boards across the nation, Rock Hill’s board has had to answer the simple question when do children return to school with no easy or guaranteed safe answer. (AP Photo / Jeffrey Collins)

Her board took a democratic approach, with much community input.

Similar scenarios are playing out across thousands of U.S. towns and cities.

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