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My email inbox can be a strange place.

I've shared with you some of the feedback from both fans and less-than-thrilled readers at various times. Right now, I'm encouraging you to send me what you are thankful for in this hard-to-be-thankful year of 2020.

(Send your who and/or what you are thankful for and a little explanation of why to jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. We'll run some of them in our community conversation in this space on Thanksgiving.)

Here is a starter: I received an email from the Atlanta Braves, which announced Monday single-game tickets for 2021 are now on sale. I was grateful to see that.

Then came the news that the NCAA basketball tournament is looking to play all of its games in a "bubble" somewhere in or around Indianapolis.

This, of course, was after a Masters tournament that had the same general in-person attendance as the Chattanooga Metro Airport. At least the planned return to Augusta next April has better hopes for better natural colors than patron-packed galleries.

This also comes as the coronavirus infection figures for our area are climbing. That leaves our public school leaders with key decisions.

On Tuesday, the Hamilton County Department of Education is scheduled to announce plans for school schedules after Thanksgiving. Public school in the county is on break starting Friday; students are not scheduled to return until Monday, Nov. 30.

The department of education has operated at Phase 3 since late August, meaning that schools are open with a mixture of on-site and remote learning when needed.

Our local numbers have moved us much closer to Phase 2, which is half-weeks in class mixed with remote learning.

As for the announcement today, I am sure we can all agree on two things: 1) The school system and superintendent Bryan Johnson are weighing all of their options, and 2) there are no easy answers.

In that regard, I hope Johnson and his team have looked beyond the four-phase plan we have followed to this point, because I know the value of kids being in school, both for students and the community in general.

To that end, why not a hybrid plan that differs among elementary schools and high schools, since our older students certainly could handle remote learning more easily? There also are reduced child-care concerns for older students in single-parent or two-working-parent families.

At least that's my hope. To be sure, there are few right answers against an invisible virus that has changed everything.

Amid that change, we can hope for skilled and compassionate leadership, but we also have to realize that it's incumbent on us to be smarter, work safer, stay masked and socially distanced when needed and to do everything we personally can so we can get back to the things we took for granted.

Like tickets to the Braves game or seeing the crowds at Augusta.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com.

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Jay Greeson
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