Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Vicksburg Post on a local district's back-to-school plan amid the pandemic:
Since the Vicksburg Warren School District announced its decision to start the upcoming school year on schedule, there has been a debate.
Since the Vicksburg Warren School District announced its plan on how it will welcome children back beginning Aug. 7 — offering both an in-person and distance learning option — there has been a debate.
Since the Vicksburg Warren School District offered detailed plans on how schools will work to beer protect students, teachers and staff from the threat of the COVID-19 virus, there has been a debate.
But the question some would have is why such a debate?
Leading up to the district’s decision, which was later approved by the Board of Trustees, the district asked for and welcomed the thoughts and ideas from thousands of parents, teachers and other district personnel. It studied the feedback, the suggestions and the ideas to formulate what it felt was the best possible plan to return to school.
And while the plan brought together those ideas and suggestions into one that would serve the most children and addressed the most concerns there was still a debate. There was still complaining.
But again, we ask, why?
For those who want to send their children back to school, there are plans in place — down to the smallest of details — on how schools and classes will operate, when children will be allowed to do what, and what steps will be taken if and when a child shows symptoms.
For those who do not want to send their children back just yet, there is a distance learning plan that allows for children to continue their educational development under the guidance of certified teachers.
And, the plan is built to where parents can change their minds and move to one option or the other.
The overall plan is built with the best information available, with the best advice and consent available. And, the plan was built with the involvement and participation of thousands of parents, teachers and staff.
The plan to reopen schools did not come down from on-high. It was not dictated to us or an order placed upon us. It was built by us, by our community and for our children.
It may not be perfect, but at this time, during this year, all we can ask is for everyone to do their best. This plan is that.
The debate on how, what and when may never be settled or ended, but it is time to rally for our schools, rally for our teachers and rally for this plan to be successful.
The Dispatch on a Mississippi city's open container policy:
Good idea. Bad timing.
During Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting, Starkville mayor Lynn Spruill broke a 3-3 tie that will allow open containers of alcohol in much of downtown Starkville and the Cotton District.
With Ward 3 Alderman David Little not in attendance, the 3-3 split among the aldermen illustrates that this was not a move that enjoyed a consensus, for reasons that should be obvious.
While we understand the motivation behind the creation of a leisure and entertainment district - the city is facing a $125,000 sales tax shortfall and allowing consumption of alcohol would enhance the city’s planned outdoor “Streatery” at a Main Street location — the spectre of the coronavirus pandemic should cast an enormous shadow over this move. On Monday, 1,635 new cases and 31 deaths were reported in Mississippi, shattering the state’s single-day record.
The timing of a move that could encourage large outdoor gatherings where good judgment is likely to be compromised by conspicuous consumption of alcohol is at odds with the city’s previous efforts to protect public health through its policies.
In a few weeks, thousands of students will return to Mississippi State and the city, essentially doubling the population.
Already, there are grave concerns about student behavior when it comes to the known precautions that should be taken, including wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.
Students, many of whom consider themselves low risk, need to be encouraged to observe these guidelines rather than flaunt them, which is something we feel is almost inevitable when students are allowed to congregate in large groups in a party-type atmosphere.
Good judgment is often a casualty to strong drink, after all, and asking the Starkville Police Department to ride herd on this behavior only further burdens law enforcement.
Under normal circumstances, we would have few objections to this kind of measure, which has been adopted in many cities.
But, as Monday’s COVID-19 data confirms, these are not normal times.
We strongly suggest the city take another cold, dare we say, sober look at this.
The Greenwood Commonwealth on calls for the Legislature to offer some type of early voting:
The Mississippi Legislature seems to understand that the pandemic is radically altering how people interact.
They adjourned for several weeks during the early stages of the outbreak because the leadership did not feel it was safe for members and staff to gather at the Capitol. When they came back into session, dozens of them wound up getting infected, apparently because they didn’t closely follow health officials’ recommendations on social distancing and wearing masks.
With that personal experience, one would think they would have followed the lead of other states and significantly loosened up the requirements for early or absentee voting, if not permanently, at least for the upcoming November general election.
Instead, they just tweaked the current absent voter law to include among the permissible excuses for mail-in voting that the person has been quarantined for COVID-19 at a doctor’s order or is caring for someone who has been so quarantined.
What about all the people, including those under age 65 but with compromised health conditions, who might be afraid to risk lining up at a voting precinct? Or anyone else who just is not comfortable being around a lot of people who may or may not be carriers of the coronavirus?
The Legislature is leaving these worried folks with the choice of either risking their health or shirking their civic duty. Why would lawmakers do that, unless the Republican-dominated Legislature buys the line — against all evidence — that early and absentee voting disproportionately benefits Democratic candidates?
While other states, pandemic or not, have been gravitating toward increasing the ease of voting, Mississippi balks. According to the Clarion Ledger, it is now one of only four states that is not offering some type of no-excuse early voting to everyone.
This would be wrongheaded in normal times. It’s downright dangerous during a pandemic.