After shutting down schools in March due to the Coronavirus, students in Scottsboro returned to in-person class in late August after a five-month hiatus.

Even though the school held four-day in person classes and one E-learning day each week, students still had a small semblance of their previous school life.

They have endured face masks, social distancing, closed water fountains, no backpacks, twice daily temperature checks and classroom lunches just to be in school.  These kids are real troopers and should be commended for their resilience.

Yet once again, the COVID-19 virus has disrupted our schools.

Last week it was announced that all students in Scottsboro were being switched to virtual learning until the semester ends on Dec. 18.  Children are not scheduled to return to class until early January due to the Christmas break.

Even though the children are affected the most by these sudden changes, they are not to blame for this situation.  They are victims of bad behavior by adults.

When you go out into the community and see people running around with no face coverings or any kind of social distancing, you just question the stupidity of it all.

There is currently a mandate from Gov. Kay Ivey in place that requires all residents of Alabama to wear a face mask when we leave our homes.  This is required for the safety and well-being of not just us, but others in the community as well.

We were advised by physicians, scientists and medical experts not to host or attend large gatherings at Thanksgiving in order to limit our exposure to the virus. That advice fell by the wayside also apparently.

The evidence of that is the 53 percent positivity rate now being presented in cases for Jackson County.

It is not fair to the children to keep doing this to them.

When kids are not allowed to attend school, their lives change drastically in ways that could affect their health and well-being.

Socializing is a crucial part of growing up.  The pandemic has put the brakes on most of that.

When adults are out socializing, disregarding masks and safety precautions, they are robbing children of the ability to function in a way that is necessary for their development.

The disruption of their education affects their grades and ability to learn. Virtual learning is hard for them.

Relationships with other children are how kids learn about cooperation, trust and how to interact with others in society.

In some kids the loneliness due to isolation can turn into depression or other mental health issues.

One study done about the effects of quarantine on children showed 87 percent reporting changes in their children’s emotions and behaviors. The most noticeable changes were difficulty concentrating, boredom, irritability, restlessness and loneliness.

Other studies show that social isolation and loneliness increases the risk of depression up to nine years later.

I have seen firsthand what effect isolation can have on a child. One of the reasons we allowed our 11-year-old to return for in-person learning was because we had noticed changes in her behavior.  She is a self-described social butterfly and never meets a stranger. After months of not being around other children, we noticed she showed less interest in getting out of the house. This was a red flag to us.

Experts say children are reliant on consistent predictable experiences. These constant starts and stops to their daily life are not in their best interests. It can ultimately have adverse effects on them.

We need to accept the fact that children are not doing this to themselves.

These same people who protest about mask orders and other safety precautions are the very ones demanding that schools be kept open.  You cannot have it both ways.  It is either one or the other.

Research shows that most children develop virus symptoms after or concurrent with an adult in the household. This suggests that the children are not the source of the infection. Children most frequently acquire the virus from an adult rather than transmitting it. All data suggests children are not significant spreaders of COVID-19.

A COVID-19 vaccine had just been approved by the FDA for distribution.  Even though that is great news, the bad news for schools is clinical trials involving children under the age of 16 is just getting started.

Christmas will be here soon. If we want our children to attend in person classes in January, we need to wake up and do our part as parents and citizens.

A serious strategy must be implemented to allow schools to remain open. By being vigilant about responsible behavior as adults, we can minimize the costs that our children continue to pay.

Our children deserve better than they are receiving from their own community.

Anita McGill is a former publisher of The Sentinel. She can be reached by email at anitamcgill99@gmail.com.

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