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Editor, Casa Grande Dispatch:

I’m a concerned parent and grandparent. Are we putting the cart before the horse in our impatient rush to reopen our schools?

Due to years of underfunding, Arizona’s public schools were already plagued by shortages of teachers, custodial staff, counselors and nurses. Now, as we consider bringing students back, those crucial professional shortages will be even more problematic. Before making a bad situation worse, I believe we should take some time to focus on being better prepared.

Our children deserve to walk into an educational environment that is clean and safe. Each and every school should have classrooms that are sanitized and staffed by a qualified educator. In the event of illness, every school should have a registered nurse in house. After months of COVID lockdown syndrome (and being exposed to extended close contact with their parents), students should be able to speak with a certified counselor who can provide emotional support.

I’d like to see every school reopening process invite input from parent and teacher organizations. Additionally, we need to ensure strict compliance with CDC guidelines. We should not leave these crucial and potentially fraught actions to politicians and bureaucrats alone.

Arizona needs to get back to educating and nourishing our most important resource for future success — our children. Arizona needs to proceed with a careful and comprehensive plan to ensure our children and everyone working in public education are kept safe. Let’s not put the cart before the horse on this one — too much is riding on us getting it right!

Patrica Atchue