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OPINION: The next generation sets example

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Chuck Gibson, superintendent of Jones County Schools, made it clear in a recent Board of Education meeting that the success of keeping COVID-19 cases at a minimum in local schools and the ability of sports, including football, to continue is due to the resilience of the next generation – our students.

The Greyhounds executed a valiant effort against a larger opponent Friday night. Leading at the half by 5 points, the Hounds exceeded all expectations. Even after the defense and offense ran out of steam, our student-athletes never stopped fighting.

The battle against COVID-19 requires the same level of fortitude. The novel coronavirus spreads easily but is also easily avoidable. Wearing masks and washing hands can stop the menace in its tracks.

For those who doubt the effectiveness of masks and personal protective equipment, look at the reality. Fewer than a dozen cases of COVID-19 have been reported among nearly 6,000 students, faculty and staff at Jones County Schools.

Why is the rate so low? Classrooms, common areas and school buses have been routinely disinfected. Faculty, staff and students are required to wear masks.

It’s not exactly an intellectual leap to say that the efforts of Gibson, school administrators, teachers, custodians, and students are the reason the COVID-19 curve has been flattened in Jones County.

At this point, it’s more of a risk to go to a local retail store than to go to school. Despite signs and pleas from stores to protect shoppers and employees, some are determined to be defiant and stand up against the authoritarian rule of grocery stores.

That’s fine. It’s better to have 80 percent of shoppers showing concern about their fellow citizens than none. But, what can be learned from the current generation of young people?

They are going to school. They’re wearing masks. They are social distancing. They are put in learning environments with teachers who are having to adapt to the possibility of infecting or being infected by their students.

It’s a cost-benefit analysis. What’s the benefit of wearing masks? Slowing the spread of COVID-19. The cost? Schools shut down. Football stops. Softball, cross country and volleyball follow suit.

Normal life as we know it ceases. Why? For refusing to accept common sense. Our young people are setting an example. Let’s follow them.