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The back-to-school edition

In my last blog post, I wrote about how the pandemic has underscored our need for one another. I made the point that when a misguided individualism leads people to put others at risk, government has a role to play. Whether through incentives that reward people for good behavior or through regulations that restrain bad, the state has a legitimate interest in promoting the general welfare.

Recently, that issue has centered on the reopening of schools. Everyone wants students to return to in-person schooling. My own grandson spent his fifth-grade year at home attending the Spud Academy online, and it was not a great experience. After all, if we are, as I have argued, social animals, school is an important arena for learning the social skills to become effective members of society. We should all be working together to ensure that schools do not become disrupted again this year by coronavirus outbreaks.

Some argue that masking or not masking is a private decision that should be left to individual families. That is clearly wrongheaded. If unmasked students inadvertently carry the delta variant into their classrooms and spread it to others, it is not just them, but the whole group, that is affected. When we elect our officials, such as school boards, we expect them to make decisions in the best interest of all. It is clearly in our best interest as a society to make this school year a success and get our young people back to full involvement in the school experience. They are our future.

Sure, I get why people don’t like wearing masks. I don’t like it either. Maybe we could all put our masks away if every eligible person would get vaccinated. Until that happens, I’ll continue trying to act like a responsible member of society. Let’s teach that lesson to our children.

Paul Harris

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