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Putting safety before popularity

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    Josh Lurie makes the case for wearing masks. Photo/Jordan Meaker

Educators have become front-line workers in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic as the great experiment of returning to in-person instruction unfolds across the state and country.

As tough as that job has become, the leaders bear responsibility for overall safety of students, faculty and staff.

School superintendent may be on the top of the list of thankless jobs in 2020. With the nation wildly divided about wearing masks – a topic that should be based on science and not politics – no decision is going to please everyone.

While last week’s board of education meeting stirred up the Facebook warriors who tap away on their phones without stopping to think about what they post, the first day of the 2020-21 school year appears to have gone smoothly.

The decision by superintendent Chuck Gibson and the Board of Education to require masks in schools was the right one for a number of reasons. Without masks, a return to school is sure to fail.

After months of kids being at home with parents and grandparents, both caregivers and their wards have been anxious to go their separate ways. Schools offer kids a social education and an outlet for their energy and creativity.

Parents want to return to normal as they get back to work to provide for their families and keep our economy humming along. What’s the biggest risk to that coming to an end?

A COVID-19 outbreak.

Many think it’s inevitable. It isn’t. Other nations have gone back to school with hard work and diligence to keep everyone safe.

But, the school system can only do so much. Videos have surfaced over the weekend of college students partying by the hundreds with no social distancing or masks.

While universities can’t control that any more than K-12 schools, students have to understand what’s at stake and that stopping the spread of the coronavirus is the only path forward to a sense of normalcy.

We live in a community where people look out for each other (see letter to the editor on the next page). If we can step up to help each other in times of crisis, we can wear masks to protect others.

If nothing else, wearing a mask says that you care about other people and want to ensure others don’t get sick should you be infected with COVID-19. That should be worth the risk of smelling your own breath. And you can always buy some mints.