OXFORD — It’s hard to find slivers of silver linings behind the COVID-19 cloud because, to be honest, they are few and far between.
But that doesn’t stop some folks from trying.
I’m optimistic enough to believe that we’ll come out of this and perhaps be better off in the long run for lessons learned during these hard times.
But don’t tell that to someone who has lost a loved one during the pandemic, a small business owner who’s going under or the head of a household who has lost a job.
Don’t tell it either to high school seniors who are missing out on what many of us experienced as fun times during our final few weeks of high school: proms, parties, senior trips, formal graduation exercises and spring sports memories that are not soon forgotten.
Some may still get to enjoy a few of these activities, but not nearly all of them.
In an Oxford neighborhood Saturday afternoon, I saw a line of vehicles slowly driving along the street. It almost looked like a funeral procession, except for the decorations on the cars and the occupants.
Instead of older people dressed in black, young people, smiling and waving, were riding in the balloon-bearing cars, SUVs and at least one golf cart.
“It’s a senior parade,” I was told by a resident of the area.
Leave it to kids to find something to do, especially now that they can mass communicate via social media.
This school year is ending like no other “in history,” to paraphrase President Trump, who often refers to what he calls historical moments during his tenure.
I recently read a column by a conservative writer who, like many of his ilk, isn’t a big fan of public education.
He opined that rather than looking on school closures as a negative, he suspects that “some parents are enjoying new relationships with their children that full-time work and day care did not allow. This new bonding experience could lead some to continue the practice of educating their children at home once the crisis has passed and public schools reopen.”
That sounds to me like a silver lining that does not exist.
Sure, there are parents who successfully home-school their children.
But they are a minority.
Maybe a few more who, now that they have tried it, will find it to their liking.
My guess. though, is that many more parents are ready for the kids to go back to school, and the children are ready to go, too.
In my opinion, the majority of parents, especially here in Mississippi, fall into two categories.
With limited education themselves and no teaching skills, they simply are incapable of effectively home-schooling their children even when they try; or, in the case of many who are educationally capable, they simply don’t want to do it. They’d rather someone else spend the better part of five days a week tutoring and nurturing their kids.
Judging from what I’m reading in several newspapers from across the state, school district administrators, teachers and support staff are doing the best they can with distance teaching.
But I have my doubts it is as effective for most of the students as conventional school. I suspect a lot of students are going to start next school year behind the curve on what they should have learned the last quarter of this school year.
I agree with an editorial in Sunday’s Daily Journal of Tupelo that says “the state should take the lead and reward all school districts that are willing to open the 2020-21 school year early, perhaps the first Monday after the July 4th holiday.”
The idea would be to have remedial training for students in July and August — perhaps on a limited schedule — to help them better prepare for the grade they’ll enter in late August or September.
Of course some are predicting we won’t be over this pandemic by then, but I like to think we will be back to the point of opening the schoolhouses.
I’d call education an essential business.
• Charles M. Dunagin is the retired editor and publisher of the Enterprise-Journal in McComb. He lives in Oxford.