I don't know.

Maybe those three words should be the universal answer after two months of shutdown, quarantine, social distancing and walking along the jagged edge of economic collapse.

When will team sports return? I don't know.

When will it be safe to return to work? I don't know.

If the previous catch-phrase has been "listen to the experts," well, which experts should we listen to? Again, I don't know.

Are we truly sure if anyone actually does know in these uncharted waves of a pandemic? It's an avalanche of best guesses and well-reasoned hypotheses wrapped in preventive measures to avoid the worst-case second-guessing when it becomes even more clear that, like me, no one really knows.

Every day, pundits spewing opinions on the devastating public health threat of the coronavirus trade insults with the pundits warning about the economic fallout of the pandemic. They are convincing and persuasive.

But I think they know little more than you or I know in this fight and what exactly the future holds. I am glad to say again: I don't know.

That said, here's one fact I know for sure in this moment: Hamilton County Schools Superintendent Dr. Bryan Johnson may have the toughest non-frontline gig of anyone around here.

Imagine the last few months for the leader of our county's school system, which happens to be one of our largest employers tasked with what should be every county's No. 1 goal — educating our kids.

He is juggling critical decisions about student safety and student success; about what's best for teachers; about how to plan for what he doesn't know.

Let's not forget there has been and will be plenty of sadness over what went missing this year: athletes missing their final seasons, graduations and feel-good moments for teachers, kids and families, proms and plays and everything else that creates lifetime memories. How do you deal with denying all of that?

I don't know, but I bet Johnson does.

To his credit, Johnson appeared open to every possible alternative Tuesday night when he met with the media about a task force he's created to plan for what is to come in August.

"We have a level of obligation to provide as many options as we possibly can," Dr. Johnson told TFP education reporter Meghan Mangrum. "What has hit us is frankly how daunting a task it will be and all the nuance and intricacies that should be under consideration for a district of our size, and how we should be planning strategically for the safe reopening of our district."

That Johnson recognizes that fact and is still committed to exploring any and all options — some of which will be heralded and some vilified — may be the most reassuring move of all.

Because the job he has done — whether you think it was good or bad, approved or hated — seems like the rather simplistic opening act for a magician who started with a card trick and is being asked to make the opposite sides of the Grand Canyon connect as we head into the summer of the great unknown.

Home schooling and virtual learning work well for some parts of Johnson's realm but not others. That will be a monumental challenge as he and his team evaluate their options come fall.

I don't know what we will face as a community or how all of this plays out, and neither do Johnson, the Board of Education, our mayors or governor.

Contact Jay Greeson at and follow him on Twitter at @jgreesontfp.

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Jay Greeson