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Damned if you do, damned if you don’t

By Walter Geiger Our public schools have opened and, much to the chagrin of the naysayers, the world did not come to an end. Yes, there have been some positive cases and some quarantines imposed but our school systems had contingencies in place and, thus far, they have worked. School board members, superintendents and other administrators were in an unenviable position. They knew students were lagging without face-to-face instruction. Many school families, and more than a handful of teachers, had limited online access which rendered remote learning useless in their homes. Remote learning also requires an engaged parent in the home cracking the figurative whip to keep students in line. Many homes do not have that parent. In many, that person is a grandparent generationally unfamiliar with online instruction. Schools had to be reopened to avoid an educational crisis in which students at all ages would have fallen behind permanently. Making the decision was tough with the COVID-19 pandemic raging. Those who made it were the target of multiple attacks from those who are scared. They have a right to be scared but they do not have the right to take to social media and ridicule those who had only the best interests of children in mind. Another problem with reopening was the fact it focused the spotlight on the decision to close schools in March. If the reopening succeeds, was it wrong to shut schools down in the first place? Many think so. Our educational leaders were in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation but they went ahead with what they thought was the right path forward – offering both in-person and remote instruction. That was the right decision. Interscholastic sports are back as well. Softball and volleyball have begun playing. High school football gets underway Sept. 4 with the Battle of Potato Creek at Trojan Field in Barnesville. That match pits border rivals Lamar and Pike against each other. Lamar will sell 1000 tickets and Pike will sell 500 beginning today. Leftovers will be sold at the stadium ticket booth but the hope is to avoid lines there. All standing room areas will be open and fans can bring chairs to sit along the fence or blankets to sit on the hill. I have had my share of issues with the Georgia High School Association over the years, the phantom lightning game at Mary Persons among them, but executive director Dr. James R. Hines has been a stalwart in insisting competitions be resumed. He, too, has caught hell from every direction but has held steadfast and is to be saluted for it. The start of school, softball, volleyball and the return of Friday night football are signs of a return to normalcy and all of us could use a heaping helping of normal in our lives right about now.

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