By Walter GeigerAt last week’s meeting of the Lamar County Board of Education, school superintendent Dr. Jute Wilson expressed ‘deep concern’ at the fact many of the system’s students have fallen behind in their work since the coronavirus quarantine began in March. He was especially concerned for remote learners – those who require a parent, grandparent or some other adult to make sure they are doing their school work.Many are not.’We have many students who are approaching eight months outside the classroom. While we support and understand the decisions students and parents have made to opt for remote learning during the pandemic, the academic, social and developmental progress of many students has suffered. We cannot stress enough the importance of communication, accountability and structure for remote learners,’ Wilson said.Some people are scared to death of COVID-19 and that is understandable but is the virus so dangerous as to keep your child out of school for eight months? Unless the child has serious health issues or lives with adults who are compromised, the answer to that question is probably no.Here are the numbers Wilson provided as of Friday, Nov. 13.Lamar currently has a system-wide enrollment of 2726 students of which 2164 are being instructed face-to-face on campus. Since school started July 23, 24 students have tested positive while 345 have been quarantined for possible exposure – the operative word being ‘˜possible’.Nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 58% of school-age children who test positive show at least one symptom. According to that figure, we can extrapolate that 14 students have shown symptoms since school started. Over the years, we have had many flu seasons in which severe cases vastly surpassed that number.So, COVID illnesses are a factor in schools here but not a major, deadly threat. However, the mandatory quarantine is a different story. ‘We had two positive students in one school that led to over 70 students being quarantined for 14 days. One thing we know is that projecting how this will proceed is impossible. Students thrive in an environment of structure and consistency,’ Wilson added.Administrators and teachers have to hope quarantined students keep up remotely while out of school for two weeks. Sadly, in many homes, that just does not happen.As for the fears sick students would devastate faculty and staff, Lamar has had 19 staff members test positive and 59 quarantined for 14 days.There have been no reports of deaths among students, faculty or staff. Likewise, there have been no reports of students taking coronavirus home and killing an adult family member or anyone else in their immediate environment.So, on one hand, you have the structured school environment where the risk of getting extremely sick is less than that of a serious flu season while, on the other, you have students who have been at home for eight months doing little or no school work.Which of these is the harsher reality?