“The PENNCREST School District will be a dynamic educational community that inspires optimal student achievement and lifelong learning.” This is PENNCREST School District’s vision. It’s also a vision that is not being fulfilled.
With libraries across the school district closed and not circulating books, students don’t have the opportunity to receive a “lifelong learning.” Students are being openly denied access to arguably the most important learning tool available to them. How does this fit in with the ideals of a school?
Thankfully, the district still employs three librarians. But since no books have been circulated since the pandemic started last March, we are unsure what duties the librarians have picked up over the past year. We wonder: How will elementary students learn to read, continue to grow in their reading, and expand their knowledge?
Above all, the elementary schools are suffering the most due to the district library closures. Literacy should be a top priority, especially at a young age. Books should always be available to all students.
So why aren’t the libraries open for circulation? The answer we’re given is COVID-19. Yes, the global pandemic has left the world socially distanced and rocking masks like there’s no tomorrow, but we’ve found work-arounds many times before.
The remainder of last school year was online only. And we used a hybrid model for a few weeks this school year. Otherwise, PENN-CREST fought to remain open with all students and teachers in the classroom.
Sports teams have been another concern. We have fought for our beloved sports teams and guided them through quarantine after quarantine. So why can’t we fight for literacy and an open library?
It’s impossible for wrestlers, for example, to be socially distanced when they compete. They grapple with each other and come off the mat after potentially exchanging sweat and blood, but we cannot borrow a book from the library.
Where is the logic in that decision? School officials aren’t separating logic from reason, and it is affecting the students around them.
The fight for the library is one we as students are willing to take on. Just as sports are needed to bring spirit, provide opportunities, and lift morale — so are books. They’re necessary for upward movement and forward-thinking.
So why stop where we are? We’ve come this far. We’re rebuilding our schools into the striving environments they once were. Why give up?
We stand for literacy. Are you willing to stand with us?
This staff editorial was originally published in the February 11 issue of the Panther Press.
Journalism Adviser, Saegertown Jr. Sr. High School