To paraphrase actor Al Pacino in his role of Michael Corleone in Godfather III, “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
That’s how most of Wayne County must have felt when the Wayne County Board of Education made a decision and changed it again. The board announced Wednesday it was delaying — by two weeks — to move kids back into classrooms full time.
After decisions were made to get instruction going again in a positive manner — such as finally settling in on how kids would be taught, online or in the classroom — parents, children and taxpayers in general started to feel the worst was over after the debilitating pandemic shut schools down. Schools were moving in a direction that inspired support for the school board.
But then came this past week when the school board decided to put off Plan A (full in-classroom instruction) until Jan. 25 rather than the Jan. 11 date members agreed to on Dec. 7. With the recent increases in COVID-19 cases in Wayne County, a board majority thought it best to change its mind, once again, and move the Plan A date for K-5 date out two more weeks.
Board Chairman Chris West noted the need for the change. “I realize what we did last week. The metrics have changed dramatically, I think, since last week when we met and decided that we were going to look into going into Plan A.
“If we go into Plan A, I feel confident that we’re going to have staff members who do not feel safe in an environment where we have full-fledged face to face. So, you know, we can’t disregard the responsibility we have for our staff in the classroom, period.”
Everyone agrees I am sure, that protecting all people — staff and students — is a paramount responsibility for the school board. The concern isn’t with waiting until Jan. 25 for full in-classroom instruction. The problem is the school board’s disorganization. It consistently doesn’t have its ducks in a row before making a decision. For instance, in November, a great deal of talk could be heard that if people were not careful in socializing, we could see a spike in COVID-19 cases after Thanksgiving. Looking to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the numbers have remained relatively flat since October. From Dec. 8-15, the number of positive cases in Wayne County — according to the CDC — dropped seven-tenths of 1% (0.07). Is it understandable that during the talk of a COVID hike, the school board would decide to bring K-5 students back into the classroom and then change its mind — with COVID as the reason — two weeks later when the number of positive coronavirus cases in the county is flat?
I find it confusing, as I am sure many others find themselves confused, too.
Then the hiring of a new superintendent has fallen upon the pile of befuddled attempts in decision making the school board is stacking up. I know I wasn’t surprised when the school board named a second “interim” superintendent and asked the state for a second search. Chairman West said the first pool of superintendent applicants didn’t generate a good fit for the school board. The second round of applications will come in through March 15.
Is it that a “good fit” could not be found or that the “good fits” have reservations about applying to and working for the Wayne County Board of Education with its inability to make a decision and all.
Contact Duke Conover, News Argus editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-676-6813.