Welcome to our new world: Reinventing our society while avoiding the coronavirus

When the state of Connecticut first shut down in the middle of March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of us, it seems reasonable to assume, believed it would be for a couple of weeks or so. But the time has gone by with all of us facing challenges we could not have foreseen, scrambling to find ways to fill in for lost personal or business revenues, through government support whenever possible. Now the original finance support legislation’s funds are starting to expire, such as the $600 federal unemployment for individuals or the PPP loans taken out by small businesses. Yet still, we have not seen the end of the spread of the coronavirus nor any preventive treatment or vaccine that will dramatically change the picture in the near term. What happens now?

It’s as if we need to reinvent our society on the fly. There’s not much point in arguing about whether it had to be this way, as other countries have escaped the high spread rate the United States has experienced. Those who need to decide how to operate in the moment must do so with conditions as they are. Though of course it would be better if our national leaders could have come up with a carefully coordinated pandemic plan and applied it across all the states. Until that happens, we must deal with things the best we can. 

Some of those most challenged by this situation are our public school professionals, who have had precious little time and shifting and contradictory guidance from national leaders to consider as they made their plans. But, we have been lucky to be in Connecticut so far, as our governor has been responsible and strong in requiring the wearing of face coverings and social distancing for months, keeping the spread of the disease contained here. Gov. Ned Lamont also released loose guidelines for educators to use in planning to open schools for the next semester, from which individual school districts, and even individual schools, are now formulating their plans for opening. 

Region One’s planning, as described by Senior Reporter Patrick Sullivan on last week’s Lakeville Journal front page, has three stages of operation laid out that can be used depending on the current state of COVID-19 spread. Region One Interim Superintendent Lisa Carter and the reopening committee of more than 40 people have taken on this critical responsibility. The committee has representatives from all facets of the community and they have come up with the options for all to work with depending on how the virus behaves as the state steadily increases social interaction.

The Region One plans should be reassuring, we hope, to both parents and students, as they are well-thought-out and clearly put the health of all those who learn, teach and work within our school buildings first. This is the way it must be with every part of our society as things cautiously open, then perhaps close, then open again, depending on increased numbers of COVID-19 cases as steps are taken to reopen. 

All of us need to be hyperaware of our own needs, as well as those of our neighbors and coworkers, as we continue to wait for an available vaccine or cure. Here’s hoping Connecticut can continue to keep the coronavirus in check, using well-defined measures of mask wearing, excellent hygiene and distancing. If we can, we may be able to keep schools open and look at reopening even more businesses in the next weeks and months without another spike of the disease.

Our wish to our readers during this vast upheaval is that you stay well and keep in touch with those around you as possible and responsible in a physically distanced world. Try to avoid being too isolated and take the opportunities for connection as you find them. We at The Lakeville Journal are here, and plan to remain so, to provide useful information and the opportunity for open communication for all of you.

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