I felt it last Friday night while I was walking up and down the sidelines at Long County High School’s football stadium watching the Blue Tide play. The crowd, sensing something special was cheering in approval as the Tide looked to grab its first win in over two seasons.
The déjà vu I sensed was that I knew the two stadiums in Liberty County were dark and silent. Just like last year.
Once again, the leaders of the Liberty County School system, in an overabundance of caution, cancelled all extra school activities because of the recent spike in Covid cases in the county which also cancelled the Bradwell Institute-Liberty County football game which was to have been played last Friday. The schools will go to virtual learning for the next two weeks and will evaluate the situation after that time period.
Needless to say, the fact that both Long and Bryan counties have continued to hold school and continue playing sports was not lost on some people who I have talked to.
“I saw this coming several weeks ago,” one gentleman told me.
I have to admit, I did as well.
Liberty Schools held classes both Thursday and Friday of last week. That’s students, in classrooms, riding buses, talking and interacting with each other for two full days after the school system said they were cancelling Friday night’s football game and other sports on Wednesday night.
Makes me scratch my head, just as I did last year. If students could go to class for two full days as I mentioned, then why would it be necessary to cancel the biggest rivalry game of the year between the two Hinesville schools?
Did something miraculously keep any spread of infection away Thursday or Friday, but at 5 p.m. on Friday it would be back at full force? So once again the senior football players on both teams missed not only their biggest rivalry game, they will also miss another game next week and miss an opportunity to get in front of potential college suitors.
School officials are citing the spike in Covid numbers in Liberty County as well as among the school staff and students. That’s commendable, but it was only the first of the week when the same school officials said they were proud of the efforts by both the students and school staff in following protocols for safely attending school.
What was the number that changed everything? Currently there are about 50 staff members and 1,100 students who are quarantined or out because of Covid.
If it was that dire of a situation and forced the schools to go to virtual learning starting this past Monday, then why would Liberty hold two more full days of classes? Was it because school officials needed to give parents the chance to make plans for students not being in school? That sounds reasonable, but schools are often shut down quickly because of weather related scenarios, why then, if the situation is as dire as we think it is, would you still go ahead with classes for two full days after declaring an emergency?
We went through this last year and it appears the students and parents will be going through it again this year. We are heading into an era where Covid is the catch-all reason for something not being done or accomplished. Surely, we have plans in place after last year’s trials and tribulations, but at some point, common sense has to be the winner.
Parents should talk with other parents and should explain the situation to our school officials. This stopstart, start-stop approach only prolongs the situation and we are quickly approaching a generation of kids who haven’t been able to interact with each other or get the education they deserve and need.
If you see me, say “Hey!”
Dee McLelland is Publisher of the Coastal Courier and the Bryan County News.