If you want to know my first reaction to hearing the announcement of high school sports and extra-curricular activities being suspended in the Liberty County School System then you might want the small children to leave the room.
Wait let me back up. My first reaction was a flood of questions. Most notably how the decision was made, what prompted such a decision, and another was the timing of the announcement.
Our schools and almost all schools across the state had started their fall drills this past Monday. What changed from Monday to Friday afternoon around 3 pm?
Did our county numbers change so drastically in three or four days? This week’s Covid-19 report listed Liberty at 574 confirmed cases and 2 confirmed deaths according to the Coastal Health Department’s weekly Tuesday report. Liberty County currently has over 63,400 residents which equals less than one percent of our population being infected.
Were the high school coaches and other faculty members brought into the discussions? Heaven forbid, did some of the adults making these decisions ask the seniors of the schools their opinions? It sure seemed to be a mantra in the spring when some of our leaders lamented what a sacrifice last year’s seniors had to make in their final months of school. Now, seemingly out of the blue the same predicament is being thrust onto a group which it has been proven are at the smallest risk of anyone.
This suspension also will hit all the members of the band, cheerleaders and other school groups. I have a hard time believing these young adults are happy to see their dreams and passions halted for less than one percent of the population.
I’m not faulting the school administrators for regarding the health and well-being of the students and the faculty members. Safety is of the utmost importance, but as has been the case during the past few years, we can’t seem to act or speak in a civilized, mature and level-headed way. Everything, and I do mean everything, is “over the top.” It’s either the best thing that ever walked into this world or by far the most absolute worst thing to happen to mankind.
I expect the next thing that twitters across our world will be the “best” or “worst” in the next news cycle and everyone on the right will jump one way and everyone on the left will jump in the other direction. I expect not many will stay right in the middle.
The Liberty County School System budget was approved a few weeks ago and while there was a slight drop in the budget from the previous year, it still was a hefty number. Dr. Franklin Perry has stated that Liberty had one of the best plans in the state when it came to the restarting of this school year.
Having read through the plans which have been made available to the public, the plan looks sound, but it’s only sound when it’s followed, not when it seems to be deviated from on a moment’s notice with little transparency as to why.
I have strong feelings about “virtual learning.” I have very strong feelings that our young adults are not receiving the education they not only deserve, but desperately need for the growth and maturity they will require down the road in their life. I do not believe “virtual learning” provides that.
Young adults need to walk down hallways and see other students and friends. Athletes need to have the routine and structure of a team and teammates.
As I said earlier, safety is of the utmost importance, but in the end, we as a community and as a nation are going to pay for some of the decisions made today which affect our young adults.
We have already seen what some of the early decisions led to when it comes to businesses being forced to close. Many never reopened.
While it has been stated the suspension of fall sports here in Liberty is possibly only temporary, it sure feels like something a little bigger and a little longer.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is the Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News. He can be reached at email@example.com or 876-0156.