Let’s take a test. Everyone get out your pencil and paper.  You must answer the question with either a yes or no and explain why or why not.

This essay will require you to apply the following facts. First fact: the novel coronavirus is a Democratic Hoax created by the mainstream media. OK, no wait, it’s not a hoax but it will miraculously disappear. We only have 15 cases and they will disappear. It will be a miracle. Wait, let’s change that up a bit.  During the summer, the virus will disappear.  OK, so maybe not. Use these facts: the virus is real, but if you stop testing people, then it will go away. No one else will die. OK, wait, let’s do this: the virus is real but you can treat it by ingesting Clorox. OK, so wait, that’s not true either. 

The essay was due August 13. Wait, let’s change that Aug. 26.

Here is one fact that hasn’t changed: almost 300 people in Madison County have tested positive for Covid-19 and two people have died. Cases in the state have spiked in the last month but just the last few days are the lowest we’ve seen since the first of July. 

Now, here’s the essay question: Should children go back to school for on-site instruction. Why or why not?  

Whether or not you think they should, Huntsville School District and Kingston Schools began on-site instruction this week. Some students in Huntsville, St. Paul, and Kingston schools chose to start school virtually. The number of students choosing to learn virtually increased as the summer progressed. The governor has said all schools must be open five days a week, meaning teachers will not be virtual but on campus. 

We know it has not been easy for the school districts to prepare for a year in which all contingencies are options. Huntsville School District and Kingston Schools have worked all summer to get a plan in place as required by the state. And, I agree with many people; for some students the schools need to open for on-site instruction. Parents need to work. Some children in this community depend on schools for meals. Athletes deserve to play sports. Children need to socialize. Some students in the community not only come to school to learn but to also be nurtured. Students need face-to-face instruction. 

Others in our community are fortunate to have their students learning virtually. My youngest daughter will take all of her classes online this year. Thankfully, that decision was made by the university where she attends. I am thankful that I did not have to struggle deciding between sending my children to school or allowing them to learn virtually. I’m not sure I would have answered that test question as gracefully as I’ve seen others do so. 

My decision would have been influenced by some of the cheaters, whose pictures I have seen on social media lately, including a large groups of students in the Huntsville School District at the lake or park with their sports’ teammates and they have not been socially distance and they have not worn masks. I feel bad for those in the community that might get the virus from someone who has been reckless or doesn’t take the virus seriously. I understand that kids want to socialize and play sports. But, this virus is the opponent right now and you don’t want to give it the home field advantage by not following the rules. 

Audra Kimball, superintendent of the Huntsville School District, said those kind of events have not been organized by the schools and that the district is encouraging “our staff and students to follow Covid safety guidelines for everyone’s well-being.”

Students look to adults to set the examples. We are looking to the school administration, coaches and employees to be responsible during the school year by wearing masks and socially distancing. We know encouraging people to socially distance and wear a mask is just an added component to a teachers already heavy job. We know that this year, the job of being an educator is not easy. We applaud the teachers that we have talked to that are excited to be back in the classroom and thankful to have the students return. We know the year won’t be without challenges. 

We also applaud Kimball and Dr. Candra Brasel for their leadership. Like them, we have no idea what the school year will bring, but we do know a plan is in place for the safety and education of the students whether they chose to learn virtually or on-site. We sincerely wish the administration and faculty and school students a happy, successful and ultimately very safe school year. We sincerely hope we all pass the test of this challenging school year with flying colors. 

Ellen Kreth is publisher of the Madison County Record and can be reached at ekreth@mcrecordonline.com