PI Editorial: Creating confusion for schools and parents alike | PostIndependent.com

PI Editorial: Creating confusion for schools and parents alike

Post Independent Editorial Board

Imagine refereeing a football game and you have to make a tough call. You feel confident in your decision, but it’s a controversial one, and some folks are certain you’re wrong. They talk to you, you explain why you made your call and you get back to the game.

Some fans don’t like the call. Instead, they travel to a football game in another league and talk to the refs there. The other game refs explain it wouldn’t be appropriate for them to overrule the call, but they say that maybe you, the original ref, shouldn’t follow the rules that led you to make the call in the first place.

If it sounds ridiculous, it’s only more so when it comes to the Garfield County Commission’s recent resolution, acting as the county’s Board of Health, taking something that was already pretty clear and unhelpfully muddying the waters.

Our county commissioners don’t decide pandemic protocols for our school districts. Schools do so with the help and guidance from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the Colorado Department of Education and Garfield County Public Health.

But discussion leading up to the commissioners’ Jan. 24 vote led a lot of people to believe — parents and school staff alike — the county might even suggest districts don’t follow those recommendations.

That they didn’t decide to do that only kept the confusion they’d already created, and the resolution that resulted only grew it more.

Not surprisingly, the resolution was featured in conversations at both Garfield Re-2 and Roaring Fork School District meetings this week. Would the school boards have talked about COVID-19 protocols regardless of the commission’s vote? Maybe, maybe not.

But it’s difficult not to see the commissioners’ vote as more an exercise in buck-passing than really trying to provide clarity on policy and decision-making for our residents. Parents are very understandably wanting to see their children get the best educational experience possible.

COVID-19 has made everything more challenging, especially education, and patience for safety protocols is incredibly thin nearly two years after the pandemic started.

At the same time, teachers, administrators and school board members are trying to be responsive to parents’ concerns while at the same time keeping students and staff as safe as possible and in the classroom as much as possible, even if that means wearing masks.

We don’t fault parents for going to other governing bodies to advocate for what they feel is best for their children. After all, they’re parents, not bureaucrats or politicians.

On the other hand, we do expect our elected officials to listen and provide clarity, not inject even more confusion, as the county commissioners did in this case.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Editor Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud, and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

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