Editorial: Superintendent, school system doing their best 

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 23, 2020

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Kudos to Jeff Wallace and his team at the Davie County School System.

Admittedly, I was skeptical when he was named superintendent. It looked like the good ol’ boy system that put him in that position was alive and well. Some said he shouldn’t be superintendent because he didn’t have a doctorate. I didn’t go for that last one, because anyone who’s been around for a few years knows that while necessary, a formal education and degree has little bearing on one’s ability to do a job — any job.

Wallace has led the system during the school shutdown during this pandemic. Has everything gone smoothly, without a glitch? No, it hasn’t. And Wallace will be the first to tell you.

What he has done is walk a tight line, all while following recommendations and requirements from the governor. It’s easy to fall off of a tight line, but Davie County Schools has kept its balance.

No, we weren’t the first to close school doors. But it was done in time to prevent the spread of the virus among students and employees. When that happened, 100% of efforts went into finding ways to teach students remotely. And no, that didn’t go perfectly, either. But it was done. And considering the situation, it was done well.

As the school year came closer to being over and the pandemic still raged on, the schools had to quickly focus on the next school year. How do you do that when you don’t know what the requirements will be? How do you do that when you don’t know whether students will be allowed in the classroom or not? How do you do that when you don’t have computer programs or computers readily available if it comes down to at-home learning only?

You do the best you can. And Davie County Schools is doing the best it can, as are other school systems.

Davie County Schools is trying a unique plan to school opening in August, with the youngest students in class more, but every student in a classroom at least part of the time. All the while keeping the buildings at 50% occupancy with social distancing. It is even offering an online only option for parents who still aren’t comfortable sending their children to a school building. That’s an applaudable plan.

Yes, the 2020-2021 school year is going to be a burden on parents. A big burden. What do we do with our children on those off days? There’s no easy answer to that question, and it will be different for each family. People have to work, but we’re hoping employers will be more lenient, allowing parents to stay at home more without fear of losing their jobs. This is even more difficult for those with lower incomes, and I’m sure the school system is taking this into consideration.

It’s easy to complain. It’s easy to disagree. It’s easy to point fingers.

What isn’t easy is putting a plan into action — a plan that takes into consideration health concerns as well as concerns about children learning as they should. Davie County Schools, led by Jeff Wallace, is doing just that.

Don’t complain that you don’t yet know if your child will be going to school on an “A” or “B” day. They’re still trying to work that out. Much of those decisions will be based on where you live, because of busing situations. With one child per seat, it could be difficult to get all students to school. Because of the complexity of the situation, answers to some of those questions may not come until right before the start of school.

One thing is for sure, it’s going to cost more money, and because schools are a function of our government, that money comes from us — whether federal, state or local dollars — it all comes from us. Don’t complain about that, either. At least not yet.

Our school system is facing unprecedented challenges, and our school leaders are doing their absolute best to assure that our children will not only be educated, but cared for.

What else could we ask for?

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.