Payoff for coronavirus edicts might be just getting kids back into school

There’s been a lot of controversy over Oregon’s response to the coronavirus pandemic – the forced closures of businesses, the fines for businesses who violate the governor’s dictates during the six months we’ve lived under this state of emergency, and even the 6-foot distancing and mask wearing we all know.

As we’ve mentioned before in previous editions of this page, the costs of fighting COVID-19 have been tremendous. They’re costs we and our descendents will be paying for generations.

Not the least of these is the social cost of, basically, interacting much of the time in an atmosphere of wariness, if not fear. Go to the grocery store and we see people eyeing us over the tops of their masks, as we eye them back. Even when we meet acquaintances, there can be a touch of chill in the air, maybe even a little self-righteous exhortation.

Frankly, the entire COVID experience has been confusing, disconcerting, frustrating, divisive.

Reports from state and county health officials early on were not helpful because they were so generalized that it was almost impossible to get a sense of what the situation was here in Sweet Home – or any other local community in Linn County and across Oregon.

Thankfully, state officials decided earlier this summer to localize the reports by ZIP code, which gives us some sense of where we are right here at home.

More recently, we’ve become engrossed in Linn County’s total numbers, now key to getting our local kids back into school.

The question of how all this fear and suspicion and isolation is impacting the younger members of our community, our children, has already been raised by many.

Certainly, a lot of this has not been good for kids. We don’t have to be child psychologists or have a Ph.D in familial sociology to figure that out. All we have to do is look around, gaze into the eyes of kids who have spent way too much time alone at home.

And that’s why it’s good news to hear that the COVID numbers are dropping.

As our local schools in Sweet Home get under way, there’s a good chance that our younger students could be back in the classroom in a few weeks. But that’s not good enough. Many older students, especially those without supportive family situations, need help they can get in our schools.

It’s important, and that’s where all the precautions that annoy many of us may actually be making a difference.

We’ve all heard the comments about illness in general being wiped out by the preoccupation with sterilization that we’ve taken on in the past six months. But not only are few of us getting other flus or colds, we aren’t getting the coronavirus either, and that’s good for our kids.

That’s why, aggravating though it may be, it’s worth it to wear a mask and avoid touching people we don’t have frequent contact with, and maintaining that 6-foot-in-diameter bubble around us.

If this is what it takes to get kids that need to be in school back into the classroom, is that really too heavy a price to pay?

Sure, there are plenty of COVID issues that will be debated not just up to the upcoming election, but likely well beyond that.

In the meantime, though, we should do what it takes to give our kids some relief from the effects of this coronavirus.