By Jeremy Ingraham, Northwest Technical School director

This past fall a recurring theme throughout the news was about schools and whether students would or wouldn’t even be in school. If you remember schools shut down last spring and most never reopened. So for many schools the angst was real as to whether we would have school in any of the traditional ways we have known. The words virtual, hybrid, and in person learning were heard daily in news reports, and they still are.

Many meetings happened throughout the summer and early fall involving our sending schools that come to Northwest Technical School here in Maryville and how this would work / look, and what we would be doing compared to their schools etc. Together, superintendents, principals, assistant principals, counselors and teachers from all of our schools worked daily on how to do the right things for our students and staff to go by guidelines and rules needed to keep the vulnerable safe.

So, in a nut shell, it was a challenge that as you well know schools had never encountered. As many know, districts throughout the United States still have not had in-person classes with students attending. I would like to share with you that all of the planning and work by all of our schools that attend NTS including Maryville R-II did not just happen without much planning and nothing was taken lightly. Leaders throughout our region made these decisions using data and recommendations from professional healthcare and educational agencies and officials. How hard they worked this fall and are still working this spring semester, to make school happen for students is solid.

I think I speak for most, when I say that the most challenging aspect isn’t the work schools have put in though, to make great learning opportunities happen whether virtual, hybrid or face to face. The biggest challenge is to see the criticism that happens on social media platforms and not dealt with directly with schools when someone has questions regarding schools and COVID guidelines, procedures and policies.

I was asked to write this article about the challenges we faced this past fall at Northwest Technical School with the coronavirus pandemic. I hope I have shed some light on our challenges along with all schools. I could get in the “weeds” with all of the new types of cleaning and sanitizing and equipment needed etc. to make a school day happen in this new “normal.” We have all done this, including wearing masks, distancing, going by federal, state and local guidelines. Most all of us understand this as most business and industries have had to do the same.

I hope if you take anything away from this article is that you take the time to thank a para, cook, custodian, bus driver, teacher or administrator for working harder than ever to create learning opportunities for our students in NW Missouri; it has not been easy.

I have the unique position to see what many schools have done and are doing to make great things happen for our students. Although none of us are perfect, and we are all learning as we navigate these unique times. Our goal always has been in schools to create safe and rigorous learning opportunities for kids. I think NW Missouri schools attending NTS are doing a great job achieving that.