By Ray Knapp
There is nothing to compare my own school years to things happening now. COVID-19 has schools in a real mess. I mentioned in an earlier column that I missed the last three months of school between the fourth and fifth grades and it took a half of a year to catch up with my classmates. I probably wouldn’t have been able to do that except for my sister – three grades ahead of me, took note of my struggles and would do a little tutoring in the evening. She and I also missed two weeks of school for some kind of rash that was prevalent in schools that year. It was nothing to compare to this virus. The Sulphur salve used to treat it, smelled similar to rotten eggs, but cured the rash in the two weeks. Those two weeks didn’t put me behind any, as my sister took this time to sharpen her teachings skills.
It’s amazing how much help older brothers and sisters can be when it comes to homework. If you are fortunate enough to have them, don’t hesitate to ask for their help with your schoolwork. They, generally, are glad to show how much they know compared to how little you know. Luckily, I had an older sister and brother who were intelligent and helpful to me. My sister, later in life, was valedictorian of her senior class, and my brother received a promotion from the second grade directly to the fourth grade. He may have also been a valedictorian, but started goofing off during his junior and senior years.
He was the oldest sibling and in charge of us youngsters whenever Mom and Dad went shopping, or wherever together. I resented his temporary position of authority, and it did my heart good whenever he got into trouble. This election season reminds me of one of those times. A hotly contested seat for the U.S. Senate was at stake and one of the candidates was putting on a rally, which included a barbecue lunch for all who attended. My brother and some friends played hooky to attend the rally, and much to my delight, got a paddling for doing so. I really don’t blame them, as a barbecue dinner sounded good, and Johnny Weissmuller (the original Tarzan) was in the motorcade heading to the rally.
Even though I delighted in my brothers’ punishment, I appreciated his help in mastering fractions; taught during those three months I missed. He also taught me a lot about geography. I couldn’t name half the states, and there were only 48 back then. Looking back, I realize a lot is taught during a school year. The class of 2020 sure has a big quota involved to accomplish anything comparable to a normal school year.
I give credit to Director of Schools John English and members of the school board for coming up with a workable solution to give students the best education possible under the current situation. Presently there is no perfect answer for students, parents, teachers, and staff that will work for everyone. The logistics involved confuse me. How do you make sure every student has an iPad (K-2) or Chromebook (3-12) for online classes? How many meals do the cooks prepare – and on what days? Teachers will have their hands full teaching, sanitizing, and making sure students maintain a ‘social distance.’ This doesn’t include the nightmare of cramming sports in between all this and insuring safety measures against the virus for all athletes. Everyone, administrators, students, teachers, parents, and the school nurse included, certainly have my sincere wishes for a successful school year.
Maybe scientists researching various ways to control this virus may invent a vaccine that stops it in its tracks before the end of the school year, and perhaps things will return to a semblance of normal. I know that is my prayer, and of many, as the out of control virus continues to spread.