School bus

A FROWN FOR SCHOOLS THAT RUSH to return students to classrooms.

While the start of each school year comes with some anxiety along with the excitement for experiencing new beginnings, the start of this academic calendar comes with a heavier dose of fear and uncertainty.

Many students are scheduled to return to East Mississippi classrooms in about a week, on or around Aug. 10. Mississippi set a daily record of new COVID-19 cases with the 1,775 that were announced on Thursday.

If that were a one day blip, it could be brushed aside. But the state is now regularly posting more than 1,000 new daily COVID-19 cases per day and it may be inevitable that the 2,000 plateau will be surpassed.

While a total shut down in March may have been a failed experiment, the loosening of restrictions in May has failed, too. Along with a lack of discipline, most of us are social beings who want to be near others. Few are more social than children in school.

As many educators and health experts have said, there are important mental health and academic development reasons to return children to the classroom.

Our point is the students don’t have to return to school buildings the week of Aug. 10 as the eruption of COVID-19 numbers continue in Mississippi. It would be wiser to wait at least until after Labor Day.

The Meridian Star is not alone in that thought. A survey of teachers administered by the Mississippi Association of Educators, the state’s teachers union, showed 86 percent of the 2,391 respondents favored re-opening schools at a later date and/or virtual learning, Mississippi Today reported.

An informal and unscientific readers poll conducted by The Meridian Star showed 68 percent of the respondents favored delaying the start of the school year, 28 percent opposing a delay and 4 percent undecided.

The Meridian Public School District gets a crown after deciding Friday to switch to virtual learning at the start of the school year rather than offering its intended hybrid plan. Students won’t return to the schools before September.

State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs is correct in pointing out that a delay of a couple of weeks doesn’t mean the COVID-19 situation will become any better. But clearly, right now, the risk of spreading the disease appears to be only growing worse.

Decision makers shouldn’t gamble and risk the health of students, their parents, educators and those who connect with them by bringing students together too early.

A FROWN, TOO, FOR RUSHING THE START OF HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL.

The Mississippi High School Activities Association delayed the start of fall football camps to Aug. 17 and the start of the regular season to Sept. 4, but those dates appear too soon given current conditions.

The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday the delay of its football season to Sept. 26 and the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges won’t play games until October. Some conferences have canceled their seasons all together.

Readers poll: Fall high school sports

Should the high school fall sports seasons be delayed?

You voted:

So why rush high school students into contact situations just a couple of weeks from now?

The MHSAA did outline a number of safety protocols, but we’ve seen how well the broader population has done at following safety guidelines.

We do understand the great desire to return to normalcy, especially providing that reassurance for our children. But the pandemic isn’t going to be cured on our hopes and desires.

A CROWN TO TAYLOR DUNCAN for his plan to bring Alternative Baseball to Meridian in the spring of 2021.

Living on the autism spectrum growing up in Georgia, Duncan created his own Alternative Baseball program in 2016 so teenagers and adults could play. His goal is to have Meridian join more than 50 locations around the country with an Alternative Baseball chapter.

Prospective players, coaches, volunteers or umpires can register at alternativebaseball.org.

A CROWN FOR THE LEGACY OF G.V. “SONNY” MONTGOMERY.

There are many veterans around the country thankful for the education benefits the former representative from Meridian guided through Congress.

Many others in East Mississippi, from the Boy Scouts to the Meridian Freedom Project, also have reason to give thanks.

Sonny Montgomery’s contributions to East Mississippi continue today and are being celebrated this week by organizations that act in his name, the G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery Foundation and the Montgomery Institute, in recognition of what one of his been his 100th birthday on Wednesday, Aug. 5.

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