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MARK PORTERIE — PAISD embracing innovation for stronger education

COVID-19 has changed us forever. It has been the event of 2020 that leaves me scratching my head in bewilderment wondering, “What in the world is happening?” Whether those changes are for the better, is up to us.

As our governing officials decide that we can move toward reclaiming some resemblance of normalcy, it is important that we keep in mind the things that are most important, our safety and the safety of our loved ones.

There are no benchmarks or past experiences upon which we can rely to make the best and most appropriate decisions. We as a community have to write the playbook.

While the world waits in anticipation for someone to step up and provide a cure, we must have leaders who will spend the time and energy to create plans to move forward that are realistic and in the best interest of all citizens.

This should not be a partisan divide. This disease is affecting each and every one of us.

It may seem far removed if you or a family member have not been personally affected, but each of us are only one contact with an infected person away from a personal testimony.

We must take seriously the warnings from prominent health professionals who give us guidelines to fight against the spread of COVID-19.

This week we have been given a glimpse of the potential for regaining our country’s sense of “normalcy.” However, the scientific, political and economic issues must be balanced.

Although there may be a consensus on what should be done, our leaders are charged with the responsibility of determining how it is to be carried out.

Amid warnings of possible economic depression if the country remains “closed” much longer and a potential resurgence of the virus if the country “opens up” too soon, government officials face the dilemma of deciding the best direction for our country.

PAISD has to make decisions regarding the continued education of our students while protecting the health and safety of its employees and students. The year 2020 has the potential of affecting the educational system for many years to come.

Whether we use this as an excuse to just call it quits or we embrace it for new and innovative ways of providing educational opportunities for students that will benefit us far beyond our present situation, must be answered.

So, I must applaud the members of the Port Arthur Independent School District for once again stepping to the plate and supporting the education of our children by any means necessary.

The attitude that there is nothing more important and there is nothing that we will not do to support our children is evident in their dedication. Our executive team, curriculum department, teachers, directors of the various departments, child nutrition staff, and so many more have done an excellent job at moving forward.

Kudos to our parents who are either working from home or working and coming home to children and supporting them in their school work.

We have awesome parents, grandparents and guardians who are doing a remarkable job of assisting their children and lifting the standards. You have all embraced the opportunity to make lemons into lemonade.

As we move forward in our decision-making process about how we will recognize our 2020 seniors, how we will address summer school activities, fall athletics and most importantly how we will transition back to learning in classrooms together, we will continue to listen, read and rely on knowledge and common sense.

PAISD embraces this moment to take a step toward innovation for our students. PAISD has not made it to 120 years to give up now. We will get through this stronger than ever, with best practices to make us even stronger because of the COVID-19 experience.

Dr. Mark Porterie is Superintendent of Schools for the Port Arthur Independent School District. He can be reached at mporterie@paisd.org.