Now comes September, with its shorter days and nip in the evening air. The one month when New Englanders don’t grouse as much about weather is also the time to get back to fall rhythms.

In this time of pandemic, one of those autumn hallmarks --bringing students back to schools -- is fraught with a dizzying array of obstacles.

The governor wants kids back in classrooms. She has already pushed back reopening until mid-September.

Yet, already many school districts have said that’s too early. School officials in Coventry, Cranston, Pawtucket, Cumberland, Lincoln, Johnston, West Warwick, Warwick and Woonsocket last week signaled that they aren’t ready for in-person classes.

No one wants kids back in school more than teachers, says Bob Walsh, executive director of the National Education Association-Rhode Island, the teacher union. “But I don’t think we’re ready by September fourteenth.”

Among the concerns: An uptick in COVID-19 cases, difficulties in purchasing hand sanitizer, masks and other protective equipment, poorly ventilated buildings and crowded buses.

The overriding issue is how to protect the health of students, teachers and support staff during a time of a stubborn illness for which there is still no cure. About one third of Rhode Island teachers are above age 50. One grand irony of this is that because of the pension overhaul Raimondo pushed when she was state treasurer in 2011, teachers now must work into their sixties to qualify for full pension benefits.

We’ve seen problems around the nation as districts fully reopened, then had to shut down after students contracted COVID-19. 

What good does it do to open the doors, only to then close them a week or two later? We’ve already seen what starts and stuttering stops have done to our fragile economy.

Everyone knows this is a stubborn illness. All one has to do is look at the world of business, where employees of many companies are still working remotely. Even the cable news chatterers braying for in-person school are working on Zoom from home.

It’s hard to blame the governor,state education officials or the teacher’s union for this state of affairs. Reopening is complicated and one size won’t fit all. There are urban and rural districts encompassing communities with many cases and those with only a few. Special education kids have different needs than others. Working parents have huge challenges, including trying to figure out child care. 

Massachusetts and Rhode Island governments disagree on travel restrictions. Massachusetts recently clamped down on visitors from Rhode Island after an increase in cases in the Ocean State. Does anyone even know how many teachers live in Massachusetts but teach in Rhode Island?

What is sacrosanct about opening schools in September? This tradition hails to an era when most earned their living on farms and learning began after the harvest. Maybe a few more weeks of testing and precaution would yield better data about school safety.

We may need to consider a different calendar. Schools could take the spring vacation in the fall and reopen after Columbus Day.

The virus has forced our society to innovate. How many of us ever thought we would live to see the Bruins, Celtics and Red Sox playing on the same days in August?

Kids need to be in school. But not until it's safe.

Scott MacKay’s commentary airs every Monday morning at 6:45 and 8:45 and at 5:44 in the afternoon.