Tough decisions abound amid virus

Published 4:40 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Amid much uncertainty caused by arguably the world’s worst public health crisis in a century, we find it interesting just how certain many people are in their beliefs about the decisions of elected and appointed leaders who must guide our nation, state and communities through a very complex time.

For us, there are more gray areas than black or white. So we’re willing to cut a little slack for leaders who make the best decisions they can with the information they possess at the time, while under immense pressure from stakeholders to get it right.

That includes the Isle of Wight County School Board, which reconvened in a special meeting this week to reconsider a prior 3-2 vote to begin the school year with a hybrid in-person and remote learning schedule.

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How to best educate children in the COVID-19 pandemic might be the most difficult, if not the most important, decision our leaders must make. A strong case can be made that additional time out of the classroom — on the heels of an interrupted spring semester — could have lifelong negative consequences for students whose brains are in a critically important development period. But long-range considerations are moot if a child becomes seriously ill or, heaven forbid, dies because school officials made the wrong decisions in coping with a pandemic.

In this awful situation, there will be no such thing as a plan that works for everyone — whether that’s the school plan, the sports plan, the work plan or the life plan. We’re about to enter the fifth month of having our lives upended by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it doesn’t seem there is an end in sight. Back in March, a lot of people thought this would all be over by now, but unfortunately, the virus has only spread.

We encourage parents of schoolchildren and everyone else affected by unprecedented change to hang in there and make the best of the opportunities we have. The changes have been deemed necessary, and while they may cause consternation for some, the leaders implementing those changes have decided they are the best way to protect ourselves and our neighbors from the virus.

The Virginia High School League joined the ranks of those making hard decisions last month, delaying sports practice and competition until at least December. By their very nature, most sports bring athletes in close proximity to one another and have them sharing equipment and, sometimes, enclosed spaces. And while statistics show that healthy, active young people are unlikely to suffer greatly from COVID-19, less is known about how readily they can spread it to others, including their parents, grandparents and teachers. Therefore, it’s important to limit their contact with others just as it is for those of us who can only dream of being in high school again.

We know this is not how Isle of Wight and Surry’s student-athletes planned on spending their sports seasons this school year, but we hope it will turn out to be best for everyone in the long run.