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The Scoop - When can we go back to school?
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As I made my way to Fourth of July celebrations around Warren County on Saturday, the scenery changed but the questions remained the same.

When are we going to get to open schools this year? Are our kids going to get to play sports? Do you think all of this is really a big deal?

As for when students might return to school, I don't think it will happen before Aug. 29, which is the date Gov. Bill Lee has extended his social distancing recommendation. If maintaining 6 feet of distance between students is a requirement, I don't see how we return to school at all.

There's no way we can have kids pile into school buses, make their way around crowded hallways, and meet together in a classroom setting and there be social distancing. If we're being honest with ourselves, there's no way it can happen.

We can choose to return to school, which seems like a sound idea if students can remain healthy, but it will all be one big song and dance if we try to proclaim kids are following social distancing guidelines. That's not going to happen.

How are we going to keep students separated on a school bus? For that to happen, our buses would have to carry eight students at a time. And even at that distance, what happens when one of those kids lets out a sneeze? The dynamics of a school bus would lead me to believe the entire bus could be infected by just one sneeze.

As for sports, I don't see how there can be any team sports as long as we're being asked to keep our social distance. There's no doubt you can go ahead and play ball, as several of our youth leagues around the community have decided to do. 

I agree with that decision and think the kids should play ball. Just don't pretend there's any sort of social distancing taking place. It's not.

So as we stand here at a crossroads looking to trudge ahead, I think the biggest question is what level of risk are we prepared to take? When we do return to school, at some point theoretically, what's the reaction going to be when one kid in class gets COVID-19? Does the whole class go home to quarantine for two weeks? Does the whole school have to shut down?

What happens if we start playing football again and one of our linebackers gets COVID-19? Does the team cancel its games for the next 14 days while the coaches and players quarantine?

The biggest question is not when we reopen schools and school sports, which will likely happen at some point this fall. It's how do we react at the first sign of COVID-19?

We need to establish what our tolerance level for infection will be. If it's like everything else in America, it's a question that will deeply divide the nation.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.