New Kent Charles City Chronicle

News for New Kent County and Charles City County, Virginia | January 23, 2021

Editorial: School systems are doing their best to please all parties

By Andre Jones | January 12, 2021 7:30 pm

It’s 2021 and we are still dealing with the fallout from 2020 and COVID-19.

I’m often asked what my opinion is about how things are being addressed in both Charles City and New Kent County. I am questioned about if I will take the vaccine, what do I think about virtual school, what do you think about sports, and so many things. I’ve been relatively reserved on the subject, but I thought about what I want to say and how to say it.

First, I think both counties are doing their best to respond the proper way when it comes to issues dealing with COVID-19. Even as late as Monday night, New Kent School’s Board delayed the return. One thing New Kent superintendent of schools Brian Nichols said was that he didn’t want to revert back after they made a choice. True to this point, the schools have not reverted back.

But just like with any situation, there’s a divide between if kids should be given the choice to return back to in-person learning. Following that is can teachers be mandated to come back to work if they are afraid that they may catch COVID-19.

So, here’s my “two cents” worth.

Parents are the ultimate decision makers when it comes if they want to have their students back in school or not. The same goes for participating in athletics and other extracurricular activities. An example is that the Virginia High School League is just a governing body for high school sports, but it’s the parents who make the decision to allow their child to participate. School districts are dealing with the same issue when it comes to allowing students to attend in person. If a parent wants their child to attend, there should be an option.

However, that option should be available for instructors as well.

If an instructor is more comfortable teaching at home, the school system should do their best to try and accommodate this. Let’s get the information out in the open and drop the facts; education is an underappreciated and underpaid field. No matter how hard school districts and localities try to fund positions and salary, it will probably never be compensated the way it should be. If you want to be a teacher, you have to have the passion to do it because the pay isn’t what it should be.

School boards should have talks with their teachers and come to a compromise when it comes to instruction. I’m not saying there is a right or wrong decision as there are some teachers who want to be in the schools with their students.

It all comes down to liability. Nobody wants to be the bearer of bad news or accept if something goes wrong. School districts in both Charles City and New Kent have been transparent, so kudos to them for that. They are also working with limited guidance and limited funding. If you go by statistics, most transmissions of COVID-19 occur outside school parameters but are brought in.

When a person goes out to a place, they are making a decision in their interest. It may not be in the best interest of others, but it’s a choice. It’s like if I want to go to the mall with hundreds of people to pick up a new pair of shoes or do I want to sit at home and order them online. It’s still a choice.

So, I will say this; don’t be so hard on those in roles of leadership as they were elected to make decisions in an unprecedented year. Instead, understand that their will always be varying opinions on decisions when it comes to education. Parents will have a choice to send their kid back to school in person if it is offered, but the school board doesn’t have as much flexibility if teachers don’t want to return for that face-to-face instruction.

Understand all sides of the die before you roll it. Hopefully you will come up with numbers that add up and will be able to help you see things clearer instead of sheltering the truth.

School systems are liable to students, parents, and employees. Not everybody will get their way, but if we do what we supposed to do to keep others safe, things will be more feasible and capable to be operated in a way that will help us all through this time.