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Dance another day

Johnson City Press • Apr 11, 2020 at 10:00 AM

School or no school? Prom or no prom?

So many questions to be answered.

Parents and students — at least most of them it seems — champ at the bit for schools to reopen. High school seniors anxiously await word on whether there will be a prom.

All the while, a drastic drop in confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has yet to materialize.

In both Tennessee and Virginia, the governors executed stay-at-home orders, but for only a relatively short few weeks, ostensibly to try to flatten the infection curve. Those initial orders should have extended to the end of April, if not further. No health official believed two weeks would be sufficient.

So here we are, witnessing one of the most frightening events in modern history, simply because it’s an enemy we cannot see. But every day we learn more. One of the things we’ve learned is that every prediction so far of a so-called peak week has been wrong. That week has yet to dawn.

For that reason, and the fact that widely available testing for COVID-19 is not yet available, it’s time to make the hard — and probably unpopular — choices.

Call an end to the school year and stop with the wishy-washy, let’s-wait-a-few-more-days-and-see-what-happens game. A few days will not help the decision process. It’s going to take weeks of tracking dozens of statistics to get a clear picture of trends. And that’s only if the public continues to practice social distancing.

Putting students back into confined spaces in the near future endangers them, their peers, school staffs, families and the public at large. This isn’t guessing. It’s common sense grounded in science. Remember science? The how and why things work the way they do?

We understand the desire to crank up schools again. Same with the economy. But do we really want to take a risk and ultimately cause more deaths and do more long-term harm to the economy? Are a few feel-good weeks’ worth it? No, they aren’t.

And let’s talk about proms. We remember ours. Not to be graphic, but let’s be honest — social distancing is not a characteristic associated with proms.

Gowns have been bought. Tuxes have been rented. Dates have been confirmed. Hopes and dreams of that special night have been forming in student’s heads for years. We wish that the world was a different place and that proms could go off without a hitch and all those dreams could come true.

But the world today is dangerous. It isn’t a place for large gatherings, no matter the ages involved. That’s not going to change for weeks to come. As much as it pains us to strongly suggest it to school administrators, cancel the proms and stop getting everyone’s hopes up. Do the right thing for those who might attend and do the right thing for our communities. Just say no, no matter the tears.

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