COLUMN: Thank our school leaders, don’t bash them

Published 6:28 pm Tuesday, July 28, 2020

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor 

Raise your hand if you’ve been through a time in this country like we are experiencing right now. There probably aren’t too many hands raised. Why? Because this country has only dealt with a handful of pandemics over the last 100 years, and not many have come close to the seriousness of COVID-19.

Now, put yourself in the shoes of our governing bodies and think about all of the lives under their care and the decisions they are mulling over each day to keep people as safe as possible.

One of the most important decision makers right now is that of our local superintendents, who are in the midst of making decisions about thousands of kids returning to their schools for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year.

With all responsibility placed on them by State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey, local superintendents are carrying the burden of making all decisions with slight guidance from the state.

Being in their position, they’re expected to make important decisions each year for all of their schools, but this year’s isn’t just one of the most significant they’ve ever made, it’s by far the most difficult.

Do they bring the students back to participate in school on campus or do they make the decision to put in place a virtual plan.

For Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Lewis Brooks, Alabaster City Schools Superintendent Dr. Wayne Vickers and Pelham City Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield, it’s been a difficult decision, but one I full believe each has handled with great poise.

All have now mapped out their school system’s plan for returning to school, which includes both in-person and virtual options, and while they aren’t the perfect solution, there is no perfect solution until this pandemic subsides.

There will always be the ones that are never happy with any decision, the ones who think kids should be focusing solely on virtual learning and the ones who think it’s time for kids to be back in school halls.

But what amazes me is the people that are still complaining, when local schools have given you the choice to decide on whichever option is the best and safest fit for your family.

Each school system has also spent countless hours deciphering the everyday operations of school from how classrooms will be laid out to who will be required to wear masks to what school busses will require and to what breakfast and lunch will look like.

Not only that, they’ve had to find the proper plan for how to educate students rigorously in a remote setting as well as what to do if a student gets COVID-19 and has to do blended learning.

For a while, criticism of indecisiveness may have been more deserved, but now that the leaders have had the guts to step up and make a decision with the state putting all of the pressure and responsibility on them, they deserve some kudos.

Each superintendent’s number one priority is the betterment of all students and staff working in that school system. This decision hasn’t been easy for any of them, but the reason it has been so difficult and they have been so timid with it is because they care.

Now that a decision has been made, those who have poured countless time into making that decision deserve a thank you.