School leaders’ tough job  is more difficult than ever

Published 3:56 pm Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Local leaders deserve at least a little bit of respect for sitting in the seat they’re occupying right now and being faced with the decisions they have to make.
That sentiment is true any time because every decision they make will affect thousands of people, but it’s especially true now during a pandemic when no one really knows how to proceed right now.
That is particularly true for those in education administration.
In a normal year, all the big decisions are done right now and they’re mainly communicating with their people leading inside the building making sure everything is in order for school to start in late July or early August.
But for those of you not paying attention, 2020 is not a normal year.
Jackson school leaders have been running online polls and surveys asking parents how they prefer schools should open this year.
And while I’d normally respond with something snarky like, “Well you’re the one in the position to make that call. Make the call,” getting information from parents is prudent this year.
Very few people who went through the last American pandemic in 1918 are still alive. Those who are working through COVID-19 still aren’t sure what is accurate and what is theory in how it spreads and how to slow the spread.
But there are plenty of people who are sure of what they think about it, and this is largely based on their political beliefs and which national cable news station they trust more.
So the school administrators aren’t necessarily running an election to see when school should start and what it should look like when it does. But they are finding out what parents will be comfortable with when the leaders make their decision.
And it’s a tough spot to be in.
On one hand, a lot of parents are ready to send their kids back to school. More need to send their kids back to school so they can get to work.
But on the other hand, no one in school leadership wants to put children in danger of contracting a virus that acts like one of those tornadoes that will destroy a house in one second and then jump over the one next door and barely touch the shingles on the roof.
When it comes to young adults and children, very few people have bad cases and die, but no one wants to have the situation arise of a child dying when it could’ve been prevented by keeping them home instead of putting them in a building with 1,000 other potential asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
I’ll even throw TSSAA in this group as well. I know a lot of people want them to make decisions about football and girls’ soccer season this fall.
But the leadership needs to have as much information as possible before putting 16- and 17-year-old kids at greater risk of contracting the virus that may not be spreading at their own school but is spreading at the school they’re playing against on Friday night. Then they could catch it and bring it to their own school the following Monday.
It’s a tough spot to be in. And it’s another aspect of the virus we’ve got to be cautious about until medical professionals who are a lot more knowledgeable than most people reading this column figure out the best way to combat this thing.

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