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This week marks the first week of the new school year in Parker. Normally, I would write something wishing the teachers, students and administrators a great year. I’d also wish student athletes plenty of luck, and I’d advise motorists to look out for children in school zones and in areas where they congregate, like the library, Players’, and Mohave Avenue and Pop Harvey Park.

That’s what I would normally do. However, that’s not what I’m going to do this year. That’s because this year is anything but normal.

There’s something that’s overshadowing everything:  a tiny but nasty little bug called the coronavirus (COVID-19). For most people who catch it, it will barely affect them, if it affects them at all. For others, however, it can make them very, very sick. It has proven it can be fatal.

Consider this:  by the time you see this, the United States will have seen about 5 million cases. According to the World O Meters website, the death rate for the coronavirus worldwide has been 6 percent. In America, that means we can expect 300,000 dead even if we have no new cases. That doesn’t count people who become very ill and suffer long-term effects.

At least America now has more people who have recovered than we have active cases. We were about the last major country in the world to hit that milestone. It appears a lot of other countries have a better handle on this thing than we do.

Unlike other viruses, like most of the flu bugs, this nasty little guy isn’t slowed down by the heat. In anything, the virus seems to thrive on it.

With that in mind, it’s easy to see why Gov. Doug Ducey ordered schools to stay closed and go with distance learning as they start the new school year. President Donald Trump is right when he says children learn best with in-person classes. What he doesn’t take into account, however, is schools are the perfect breeding ground for bugs like the coronavirus. If one kid catches it, it won’t take long to spread it to others and their families at home.

No one can say for certain when in-person classes will start. For one thing, we’ll have to see what the guidelines and benchmarks from the Arizona Department of Health Services will be. It could be the Parker schools will have to wait for longer than the Aug. 17 date set by Gov. Ducey.

It’s still not clear just how the fall high school athletic season will work out, or even if there will be one at all. For now, the Arizona Interscholastic Association is planning in-person classes will start Aug. 17. They have also stated that could change. PHS Athletic Director Dan Maya has stated that, if they don’t have in-person classes, there will be no athletic events.

There are just so many unknowns as we enter the 2020-21 school year. The Administration of the Parker Unified School District is asking for everyone to be patient and be flexible, as no one can say with any certainty what will happen.

It may be hard on parents not knowing what’s going to happen this school year. Please remember it’s going to be hard on teachers, students, staff and administrators as well.

I would ask that everyone support the teachers, students, staff and school administration. We can educate our children, and we can beat this nasty little bug. However, everyone must do his or her part.

We can do this together.

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