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The pandemic has been unpredictably predictable — the only certainty is that every aspect of our lives has been affected.

Our struggles against the coronavirus have at times seemed all over the place, and in an era when we all are quick to blame someone, anyone, on the opposite side, this pandemic has left us in unfamiliar territory.

Sure, we all could have reacted quicker to the dangers posed by the coronavirus. But after a sty of swine flu and a flock of bird flu threats, we tuned out. This time, however, when the little boy cried "flu," this virus showed up and blew our society down.

There are no pandemic playbooks, which brings us to the decision by Dr. Bryan Johnson and his team at Bonny Oaks to return students to school in person next week.

Of course it's scary.

But Dr. Johnson has been unwavering and consistent through this. He has had an open ear, to the science experts, his school experts and his political peers.

The decision was poo-pooed by the Hamilton County teachers union, which cautioned that moving to in-person learning for everyone meant that social distancing is not possible. I understand that concern. I understand the concern of people fearful of coronavirus exposure, especially those with pre-existing conditions or with vulnerable family members with similar concerns.

But in our teaching ranks, I see courage and commitment. Recent numbers showed that more Hamilton County educators left the system before the 2019 school year (for whatever reason) than the number who chose not to return earlier this month.

We were already going to school on split schedules, and other than the increased difficulties in social distancing, the teachers, administrators and support staff are still seeing all of the students attending at least two days a week.

Dr. Johnson's decision to go back five days a week has been crafted after a successful start on the modified schedule. Virus exposures were identified and isolated as quickly as possible. As of now, there have been no widespread outbreaks that we know of — and that's a great thing.

Could going back invite a outbreak? Sure, but that is a fact with every step we take toward our next normal.

But this virus is not going away anytime soon. It's now a life-altering speed bump that we're going to have to drive around carefully.

And Johnson's decision to return to a five-day-a-week schedule was going to be viewed with the wide-ranging emotions and opinions that have become a constant in our ever-changing age, whether it was to start next Monday, next month or next March.

If you are scared as a teacher, I understand. I'm scared as a parent. If you decided not to go or decide to keep your child at home, I understand that too.

But those fears — whether it's getting sick, or giving a teenager the keys, or any of the unimaginable bad things that our imperfect world too often delivers to the most undeserving among us — must be faced. We can live with fear, but we cannot live our lives dictated by fear.

And because of that, and because it appears that our school district leadership is taking all of the right steps to ensure our children and school staff can be as safe as possible, I'm 100 percent on board with trying to get back to life as we knew it.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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