COLUMNS

Column: Going back to school during a pandemic

George "Clay" Mitchell
gmitchell@pressargus.com

We shut down in March and canceled the entire spring because we didn’t have a handle on this and wanted to get ahead of it. Now, we don’t have a handle on it and we’re falling behind. Opening the schools is only going to make it worse before it gets better.

Again, some of this falls on the leadership at the state level. We have someone in place who is the head of education, but with no real educational background, he just owns a private school and that somehow makes him qualified to lead.

An example… Key has mandated that all schools be open for instruction five days a week. Some schools were planning to combine on-site and off-site instruction. Now those plans must be scrapped. During this pandemic, what is the benefit of herding students onto buses and crowded hallways five days a week?

If there’s no plan or back-up plan in place to just deal with those issues, we’re going to lose football and other fall sports. Just look at how badly MLB has handled its management of COVID-19. Teams had to postpone or cancel games because the owners refuse to believe they would go an entire season without fans. It kind of gives the impression money is far more important than the health of the players.

The NBA and NHL did it right by putting their players in some sort of bubble. We could try that for the student-athletes, however, that may not be possible with the limited resources available for all school districts.

Green Forest has suspended football activities until Aug. 14 due to someone with COVID-19. Kids are not immune to this virus and it has long-term health effects.

There are some states already back in session for school, and it’s not going well. There have been classes sent home. Schools won’t enforce a mask rule. Which is about the dumbest thing imaginable.

If schools can enforce arbitrary dress codes, why can’t it enforce mask rules? Schools tell girls their clothes have to be a certain way but can tell students to wear a mask? We tell kids not to be on their phones during class (I’m sure there are exceptions).

I attended junior high in Houston. We had a strict haircut code. The boys’ hair couldn’t go past our collar. This was in 1984. I’m old, but not that old. The principal and teachers would walk around the lunchroom checking our collars. So do give me this crap that a mask rule would be unenforceable.

Texas did a brilliant inadvertent experiment a while back, two hairdressers infected with COVID-19 continue to wear a mask as they worked with nearly 140 clients. No one got sick.

When we’re not getting immediate turnaround on tests, we should really be wearing masks when social distancing isn’t possible.

That should be the case if we are forcing kids to go back to school five days a week. However, some adults don’t want to be in charge or make the big decisions.

And that’s the problem. Gov. Asa Hutchinson tells schools they can start practicing football and volleyball, but passes the buck to some advisory committee to make the decision. On Thursday, the AAA didn’t exactly allay fears by releasing an announcement they were meeting with the other folks on the advisory board.

And that was it.

School starts in about two weeks and we still got nothing.

The kids deserve better. The student-athletes, the band, cheerleaders, the dance team all deserve better than adults just dilly-dallying around.