I just experienced my 23rd consecutive first day of school as a parent. What a disappointment! My child sat on a computer with classmates and teachers he had never met. Despite COVID numbers declining, and our area meeting state criteria to return to school, our 6th- thru 12th-graders are at home.

Almost all local schools in Southeast Minnesota and the non-public schools in Rochester have opened with at least a hybrid model. These schools, with 6 months of planning, have been able to figure out how to open with minimal risks. Instead RPS appeared to have no details or plan to return to school at the August school board meeting.

Current distance learning is improved from spring; however, it is no replacement for live classroom interactions. Reportedly this is temporary, with reassessment in October. Does anyone really think our children will return to school as the influenza season begins and the predicted fall worsening of the COVID numbers? I doubt our children will return to school at all this year.

With the associated mental health issues, loss of educational, extracurricular and social opportunities and the reported increase in child maltreatment, are we sacrificing our younger generation’s well-being to the pandemic?

I am not a COVID denier. I wear a mask. I stay at home. Each COVID death is significant. Life, pandemic or not, is not without risks. At the very least, Rochester parents deserved the option to have our children return to the classroom this fall in a hybrid model.

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Dennis Laudon, Rochester