We are in the midst of difficult times. The number of COVID-19 cases keeps rising, seemingly out of control.
We point to several different factors to explain the surge. Is it the university? Is it schools reopening? Is it quarantine fatigue?
The 'why can't we?'
It would be easy to blame children for our failings. “Why can’t those college kids wear their masks? Why are kids in school? Why can’t I go to a football game?”
The answer is, of course, not that easy.
We are seeing cases rise because we are weary.
We are seeing cases rise because we fear for our children’s mental health, but not their physical or moral health.
Most of all, we are seeing cases rise because we are letting our guard down.
The community COVID-19 numbers result in so many kids quarantined, that our classrooms are half vacant.
Our teachers are then asked to plan double lessons, spend time grading and assisting students remotely and take responsibility for kids for whom remote access might be a significant challenge.
We all know that children are much better served by in person school than virtual. The structure of a classroom and the presence of a caring instructor are far more conducive to learning than a voice emanating from a computer.
For our future, we must do everything we can to keep our schools open.
We know how to defeat this virus. We have been told over and over:
Wear a mask.
Maintain social distance.
Wash your hands.
Avoid large gatherings.
But, we all know we are failing to follow these guidelines. Now, we are seeing numbers rise to a level that threatens our schools, our businesses and our way of life. So, how do we turn the tide? How do we save our schools? Will this ever end?
The simple things
How do we strangle this virus? We return to the simple things.
We wear our masks, even if we don’t like it. We stay six feet apart, even though we are Southerners and we live by handshakes and hugs.
We do not hold, attend or allow children to attend large gatherings such as "sweet sixteen" parties, homecoming gatherings and tailgates.
We put the needs of others before our own wants.
I know we are weary. Trust me, healthcare workers are on the edge of complete exhaustion. This virus does not care. It does not grow weary. But, we can draw strength from those who have come before us.
Or perhaps from great stories.
“Chariots of Fire” is easily the greatest movie ever made.
Eric Liddell says, in one of the most moving scenes, “Where does the strength come from, to see the race to its end? From within!”
This is where we discover our strength. We have to dig deep, find our deepest reserves and fight for our community, our schools and our families.
It is because we are Southerners that we can win this fight. When a neighbor is sick, we bring them meals, cut their grass and pray with them.
Now, to help our neighbors, we need to don a mask, avoid large gatherings, wash our hands and pray with them, six feet apart, of course.
We can do this. We must do this. Our grandparents are counting on us. Our children are depending on us. Our community is calling on us.
Pleading with you
Stay safe. Wear your mask. Help us win this fight. Help us return to normal.
Your doctors, nurses, teachers and children are pleading with you. Help us win.
Dr. Matthew J Carter resides in Auburn.
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