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OPINION | EDITORIAL: Keep school going; take covid cautions

July 20, 2021 at 3:27 a.m.

Just when you thought it was safe or at least getting safer.

Area superintendents were quizzed last week about how they are getting ready for the start of school. Just a few weeks ago, there seemed to be a big sigh of relief with plans being made to get going with school in a full-bore way we haven't seen for the past year and longer.

But the pandemic continues to hang around and now the numbers are rising again, the hospital is filing again and it's causing some headaches, if not some deja vu nausea.

"The students' and staff's safety are a top priority," said new Watson Chapel Superintendent Andrew Curry. "I am watching the cases and I am seeing the daily increases in the number of cases."

New cases have been in the thousand-plus range for several days now, numbers that haven't been seen since around the first of the year.

Obviously, covid caused enormous disruption in the school systems here and everywhere. Disruption can sometimes be worked around, but the basic function of a school district is to educate, and at the core level, the system didn't work very well.

The result was that students fell behind.

White Hall Superintendent Doug Dorris said he noticed it himself, but noted that maybe the erosion in learning wasn't as bad as feared.

"I was very proud of our teachers and students for the effort they put in," Dorris said. "It was a trying year for everyone."

For right now, masks are optional, although that could change.

"If we have to go virtually, we could, but we don't plan to go virtual right now," Dorris said. "Maybe we can take the vaccine and we can stop this thing a little bit."

Yes, a little bit would be a good start for a state that has not embraced the taking of the vaccine, except in embarrassing numbers. Of course, the big desire is to get things back to normal, as in students in front of a classroom, because there is progress when that happens.

Curry said, "I believe the best quality of learning is with a highly qualified teacher in a classroom, and while virtual is not ideal, we can adapt and overcome it if necessary."

Both superintendents encouraged everyone to get the vaccine. Watson Chapel has had several clinics over the summer with one more coming up later this month.

"I strongly urge all staff and students to get vaccinated," he said. "We all want a return to normalcy and vaccination is the way forward."

White Hall has a vaccination clinic set for Thursday.

"We're encouraging everyone to go ahead to get the vaccine," Dorris said. "Some are apprehensive, but the science shows that the vaccines are effective. We're not going to mandate it, but we hope to have a large turnout."

The next few weeks will set the stage for what's ahead. We don't need another damaged school year with classes and activities curtailed because of covid.

Follow the science or just follow what these superintendents are saying. The vaccine is the only safe and logical way forward.

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