By Dan Spalding
I’ll just be blunt.
Communities across the country are facing the biggest challenge in the history of public education as they try to reopen classrooms this month.
The next few weeks are going to be quite telling as we watch local school districts try to reopen in the midst of a pandemic that White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci says is showing no end in sight.
I’m not at all optimistic about this. Educators find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They’re under immense pressure to restart in-class teaching in very difficult circumstances.
But it seems inevitable that positive cases will start popping up in schools. To what degree is anyone’s guess. Right now, the hope among school officials is to avoid an outbreak that would require shutting down a class or a specific school.
A lot will depend on how parents react. They will have a big role in assuring kids are healthy enough to attend. But if cases start to surface and parents start pulling their children out of class, districts might have to consider reverting to online learning again until circumstances improve.
The move to reopen schools comes at a time when there are numerous signs that circumstances are getting worse. Many states, including Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, have recently slowed down or reversed course in reopening.
Local school districts are doing what is possible under tough circumstances, but I don’t know if even the best efforts will result in a workable environment – especially if positive cases begin to mount among students and staff.
Major League Baseball is already struggling just one week after trying to restart the season without fans in the stands. College football will find out soon how difficult it will be. If adults and college students struggle to adhere to what needs to be done to operate, I doubt our local schools with hundreds of kids in every building will do any better.
A lot is riding on the country’s ability to climb out of this crisis sooner rather than later. Nobody would want a second shut down. It’s already been devastating.
And yet, many Americans still don’t want to wear masks. This week’s InkFreeNews poll (certainly not scientific) shows that 49 percent of respondents don’t think Indiana’s statewide mask mandate is needed. I find that amazing.
Imagine what the poll results would be if we asked readers their opinion on the need for another shutdown if conditions worsen.
The best and easiest thing we can do right now is to wear a mask. Period.
UNITED IN OPPOSITION – A weird thing happened this past week. Both senators from Indiana as well as local U.S. Reps. Jim Banks and Jackie Walorski all rejected President Trump’s suggestion that the Nov. 3 election be delayed over his concerns for mail-in ballots.
Banks and Walorski, as well as Sen. Mike Braun and Todd Young, joined many Republicans in their displeasure with the idea, which Trump floated in a tweet.
As many already realize, Trump doesn’t have the authority to delay Election Day. Even suggesting such a move sounds desperate and silly.
VEEP PREDICTIONS – Presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden is expected to name his choice to serve as vice president on the Democratic ticket. He’s already committed to choosing a woman and many expect he’ll select an African American woman.
I asked Kosciusko County Democrat Party Chair Brian Smith to venture a prediction, but he declined.
“I really have no preference. We have an incredible bench of phenomenal women who would make a great vice president,” Smith said in a message to me.
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IT ADDS UP – Indiana has recorded more than 2,765 COVID-19 deaths. If you have trouble understanding how many that would be, consider this. That number is the combined population of Pierceton and Bourbon.
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FLAG ETIQUETTE – This week, Gov. Eric Holcomb directed all flags be lowered half-staff to honor former Gov. Joe Kernan, who died after an extended illness. Kernan was a great guy in many ways, and it was nice to see a Republican leader be so complimentary of a Democrat.
As for the flags, they should be moved back up beginning Thursday.
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ELECTION COUNTDOWN – There are 94 days until Election Day. The deadline to register in Indiana is Oct. 5. You can register online here.
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Dan Spalding is the editor at InkFreeNews.com.
He covers city government and politics and always welcomes your input.
He can be reached at [email protected] or at (574) 855-7612.