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In this weeks edition:

Is there a better way…
COVID 19 hit close to home this week. No, no one in my immediate family is ill, but the damage was substantial, none the less.
On Thursday evening, our grandson, Sam, stopped by to drop off his younger sister for a visit while he went to football practice. To say Sam was excited was an understatement. He couldn’t wait to get to practice and was very excited about the big game coming up. It was great to see Sam in such a state. Considering he lost everything he owned when his house burned this summer and has had way more tragedy in his life this year than someone his age should have to endure; I was feeling good…
That feeling didn’t last long. Less than an hour later Allison called and said the school wasn’t going to let him play because he had come into contact with a teacher who had contracted COVID. She was in tears and so was Sam. Most of that evening was spend on the phone trying to understand the situation that led up to this. The school has a face covering policy as well as one dealing with social distancing. How did it happen that Sam was within 3-1/2 feet of this teacher for more than 15 minutes if those policies were followed?
The next morning Allison and I prepared to visit with the Superintendent to get some answers. Now don’t get me wrong. I like sports. I know how important they are to most of these young athletes. But their safety must come first, and I support that. Our son missed the first two games of his senior year with a fractured finger. They wanted us to splint it and let him play. When we discussed that with his doctor we aired on the side of caution and held him out. It was the right thing to do then and I wanted the understanding to make sure that was the case with Sam.
I called Kathy Hypes to arrange a time to meet. She explained her schedule was very full and could we discussion it over the phone. I don’t like having this type of discuss in any manner other than face to face, but since Allison was at the office we agreed. Over the next thirty or forty minutes the Superintendent told us how the process worked and why Sam couldn’t play.
We were not too far into the conversation when it became obvious to me that most of the actions were not based on fact. I now believe that way too much judgement is allowed in the process and I’m not sure how much emphasis is given to what is best for the school’s image.
Allison discussed how important this game was to her son and how devastating not being allowed to play was to his mental state. She asked for alternatives… including testing. The Superintendent held fast and supported the decision. I did feel she was evasive when ask exactly who made the decision that Sam and four others were to be quarantined from
the teachers’ daily contact with students and not all them.
He didn’t get to play, and he will survive. He was tested and that test was negative, but that made no difference to the Superintendent or her “School response team.”
However, I am still concerned about the process. I’m the first to say that this is unpresented times that require unpresented actions. I would also remind everyone that there probably isn’t a bigger supporter of teachers and the educational system than I.
With that said, I was optimistic about this Superintendent and Board getting the public involved and maintaining transparency. Both of which have been most absent in recent years. I’m the one that has gotten an education in recent days. I have long been confused by the CDC guideline. Wear a mask, don’t wear a mask? Get tested, don’t get tested unless you are symptomatic? Again, I understand these are untested waters, but we have to have some consistency. During my discussion with Ms. Hypes and my research of the subject before and since this incident, I have come to realize that at the very least everyone is not treated the same. Example, a teacher contracts the virus at Frametown Elementary, they and their students are placed in quarantine. A high school teacher tests positive for the virus, one who probably teachs over 100 students throughout the day, and only 5 are selectively quarantined. If the school followed the guidelines and seats were the proper distance apart, everyone wore masks, how can 5 of those students be singled out? If we are going to make this process based on anything other than fact, there has to be checks and balances as well as alternatives. Taking an on-line course on contact tracing is not the only answer.
Obviously, COVID is not going away anytime soon. So, I only hope the educational leaders of our community, elected and employed, will revisit this process, before the cure becomes worse than the disease.

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