For many Carver County students and families, nearly 150 days have passed since they last stepped foot inside their school buildings.

The “new normal” our students, teachers, support staff, and families must navigate isn’t something any of us ever considered for a school experience. With that said, I’m proud of the work done with our schools, in concert with state and county public health officials, to do everything possible to keep your children, and our educators, safe and healthy with the start of the school year.

Since the start of the pandemic, Carver County Public Health’s main goal remains unchanged — the health and safety of our residents. With that in mind, we urge families to echo those messages to their students. Please remind students of the need to wear masks, physically distance and wash their hands.

We also implore families to keep students home when ill. Best practices include taking each student’s temperature before sending them to school. While younger people don’t seem to feel the virus’ impact as severely as adults, it’s imperative we protect our educators and broader community.

Our public health team has worked with schools, public and private, throughout the county on their “Safe Learning Plan” for the school year. We assist schools with interpreting data, help them interface with state agencies with safety preparations for the school year, and meet with the schools virtually. These invaluable meetings help our public health team hear from our school partners about their needs. These meetings also allow schools to share challenges and best practices for the coming school year.

One thing we do know about the upcoming year is that we cannot know for certain how things will go. This uncertainty can create anxiety and stress for everyone involved — students, parents, teachers and nearly everyone throughout the county.

Parents are also our employees, and we saw this past spring the challenges some parents face in juggling distance learning and virtual work. Other parents don’t have the choice to work remotely, bringing about a different set of challenges for those families and their employers. It will take equal measures of understanding, grace and courage for all of us to navigate the coming school year.

We’ve posted a list of resources for families to navigate the coming year at www.co.carver.mn.us/covid-19 under “Parent and Caregiver Resources.” As I mentioned, it’s also important that parents support themselves. We continue to host our free, virtual “Challenging Times” support group on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. The First Street Center offers additional mental health support, and private providers are also available, which your health insurance may cover.

We know the positive impacts school has in so many ways for our students, from social connections to food security and safety for some.

While this year is full of uncertainty due to the pandemic, let’s make sure we’re all in this together, supporting and respecting one another by wearing our face coverings when in public, maintaining physical distance with those outside our household, and remaining at home when sick. These simple acts might help keep our schools open, providing our children with a small measure of normalcy during these abnormal times.

Dr. Richard Scott serves as Carver County’s Director of Public Health.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.

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