Working together we achieve more
School, state and county leaders deserve praise for coming together with a compromise that could allow more students to remain in classes as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Quarantines are one of the least popular tools used to fight the spread of contagious diseases. This is especially true in the modern world where freedom of movement has become so commonplace that even minor restrictions may seem overly burdensome. While unpopular, most people grasp the concept that if you are sick with something contagious you should avoid being near other people and giving it to them. The challenge is that in order to be effective it is important not only to isolate those who are sick, but also those who have come into contact and who might be carriers without even knowing it.
Health officials will, by definition, always take the most conservative approach when it comes to protecting people’s health and wellbeing. Their goal is to keep as many people as possible healthy and to stop the spread of diseases.
Your personal healthcare provider will often advise you to give up those unhealthy habits you enjoy so much, but individuals will often accept additional levels of risk.
Public health officials don’t have the luxury of turning a blind eye toward people ignoring health guidelines. They are obligated by state laws and administrative rules to follow the rules they are given. At the same time, institutions, such as public schools, are slammed both coming and going as parents, staff, students and community members complain if restrictions are too tightly or too loosely enforced.
With a number of families choosing to send students to school despite contact tracing quarantine orders from health offi cials and local law enforcement seeking to stay out of enforcing COVID-19 orders, things appeared headed for an impasse. It was yet another example of politics intersecting with public health and had the potential to leave everyone unhappy.
Instead of butting heads, the governmental groups came together and looked for a solution rather than simply pointing fingers and shouting. The proposed policy that came out of that meeting seeks to provide a compromise that allows students continued access to in-person education while protecting public health, both in and outside of the school building.
Medford school administrator Pat Sullivan and all the others involved deserve to be commended for the work they did in creating this compromise plan that balances educational access with public safety. It is an example of what can be done when people are willing to work cooperatively toward a common goal rather than being unyielding in their positions.
Compromises and cooperation will be the key to longterm success as society continues to move through the COVID-19 pandemic.