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Re-opening schools not in our best interests

My Opinion
Robert Russel, Guest Writer

I did not know quite how to start this. After some serious thought, I will begin by telling a little bit about myself to show my qualifications for what I am about to say.

I was born and raised in Harrison County and lived my whole life here. I am almost 72 years old, so I have seen a lot of things happen in this county and around the world. I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in social studies and health and physical education. I have a master’s degree in education. I taught for 39-1/2 years at South Central Junior-Senior High School at Elizabeth, teaching seventh-grade geography, eighth-grade history, 10th-grade world history, 11th-grade U.S. history, health, physical education and anything else I was given. I know how children perform and how they act and react to all sorts of different circumstances.

I learned a lot in college and the master’s programs, but I learned a lot more from my fellow professionals and my students.

It is because of my deep concerns for the teachers, school workers, administration and the students that I write this. It has nothing to do with politics because people of any political persuasion can die from this virus.

I started teaching in the fall of 1971. We had minor disruptions like snow days or heavy rains. Sometimes the electricity went off. It wasn’t until the winter of 1978-79 that we had a major problem. We were on Christmas break and about ready to resume school in early January of 1979. On the Sunday before we were to return to school, an ice storm came through (the worst one I have ever seen). Phone lines fell. Trees filled the highways, and then it snowed 24 inches on top of the ice.

Life stopped moving. Road crews took weeks to dig out from that storm. We still had snow piled along the roads in early May. School was shut down for the whole month of January. We did not return to school until February of 1979. When we returned, everyone worked very hard to make up all that we had missed.

I tell you this because the students that took the SAT’s and college entrance exams surprised everyone by scoring just as high on those tests as all previous years’ students. That can be checked in the records, I would think.

I now come to my point, and it is a simple one. Not all students have access to computers. We don’t. My family lives in the Ohio River bottoms on Old Highway 11 at Elizabeth. If we call 911, the call goes to Jefferson County, Ky. We have no internet access and even in some places our cell phones get no service.

I, therefore, find myself asking the question, “If they are starting school on Aug. 4, why not send materials to the students at home with directions of what to do?” They could be returned and graded at school by the teachers in a safe area of their room.

These students cannot be kept apart well enough to prevent the spread of the virus. So, when they go home, they have contact with siblings, parents, grandparents and others. It is plain what is going to happen. Just look at Florida, Texas, Arizona and all the other states that opened the taverns, restaurants, beaches and everything else.

I heard today (July 10) that the highest rising age for the virus is now those from 20 to 44 years of age. See what stupidity does?

My last question goes to those who propose opening schools during this pandemic. How do you console the young students and their family when they catch this virus at school? It takes months to recover from this, so do you just throw them out with the bath water? How do you help them heal if they are responsible for taking the virus home to parents or grandparents? That will stay with them a lifetime. Will the suicide rate go up?

In my lifetime, I have found that if a person uses reason and waits on the proper time, that most things can be made up over time and nothing is lost. But, how do you teach a dead student? I don’t know of any way to do that.

I don’t want my grandchildren bringing home something that will harm them, their parents or my wife and me. Please, someone use some reason and common sense.