Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
The Johnson City Press on returning to schools after a winter break during the pandemic:
The annual winter break from school is a bigger relief than ever this year for students, teachers and especially school administrators.
The pressure from schooling decisions around the novel coronavirus pandemic has been immense — perhaps not at the levels faced by frontline health care providers, but nonetheless in unprecedented ways.
And the pressure is likely to get worse in the new year.
Since early November, COVID-19 has been spreading at an unrelenting pace in Tennessee and this region in particular. By many accounts, this is the worst possible place to be in the world right now for risk of infection. Even before the break, the surge in cases prompted officials to shuffle students in some schools back to all-remote instruction in hopes of mitigating the spread.
As we’ve stated numerous times since the pandemic reached the region in March, densely populated places like schools are dream petri dishes for viruses, making in-person learning a gamble. That’s why most districts completed last school year with virtual classes after spring break.
One could argue they should have kept that profile and never opened buildings for 2020-21. The topsy-turvy first half the year with some kids in, some kids out, quarantined sports teams and interim shutdowns has been a real challenge.
Understandably, though, schools have had to balance decisions with the educational and personal needs of students and families. Home classrooms are by no means ideal, particularly for working families and students with special learning needs.
But as illnesses and deaths mounted around them, area school officials had to take another approach.
We laud Johnson City district leaders and those of other districts in the region for making the tough call to start next semester with remote-only instruction, thereby extending the break from crowded halls, classrooms and cafeterias — at least for a while.
Tennessee already has seen one post-holiday surge from ill-advised Thanksgiving gatherings. It’s likely that Christmas and New Year’s Eve will bring similar results, given just how defiant and careless Tennesseans have been with precautionary measures.
It remains to be seen whether the arrival of COVID-19 vaccines will reduce the spread enough to make a real difference in the pandemic. Most of us are pinning our hopes on the science involved in both precautions and vaccinations, even as others remain perplexingly obtuse.
Will districts be able to fill classrooms at all next semester? It’s anyone’s guess at this juncture.
In the meantime, as hard as home learning will be on many families, parents must exercise patience to get through the coming weeks and months. School officials are not cavalierly making these calls without considering the effects on families.
Parents must respect that process and make the most of an imperfect situation.
The Kingsport Times-News on Goodwill charity stores:
Goodwill Industries of Tenneva is a remarkable success story, providing employment to some 1,300 individuals in 17 counties in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia — people who have barriers preventing them from otherwise obtaining a job.
The nonprofit operates 13 stores selling donated goods, which pays for employment of folks with disabilities, single parents, seniors, ex-offenders, or those deficient in education or employment history among other issues. There is little to no chance that most of these people could find employment other than through Goodwill, which provides programs that help people become productive contributors to society including vocational assessment, job placement, work adjustment, skills training and its community service program.
It’s been a tough year for organizations that rely heavily on public support, but thanks to strong donations, Goodwill has done well and is to be congratulated on plans to expand its Kingsport store at 1185 N. Eastman Road this month to increase the location’s shopping area and to add a center for employee training and employment services. The project will add more than 12,000 square feet of space.
President and CEO Morris Baker said the expansion is key to facilitating internal and external training and mission services and provide a better customer and donor experience.
“We are constantly looking at ways to better serve our community, and expanding our Kingsport store will do just that,” said Baker. “This remodel and expansion will improve the customer experience inside the store, and the addition of a training area will help us in our efforts to provide jobs and job training to those in need.”
The store is one of the more heavily trafficked locations in the region, and the expansion will allow for more clothing, textiles and furniture. Baker said this store alone averages 285 donations per week, an indicator of the charitable spirit within the community.
“The people in this region are extraordinary in their care about others, and it shows through their continued donations and support of our services,” he said.
“Goodwills are unique in that we are a social enterprise nonprofit, meaning we depend on retail sales to provide our mission services. The support of our mission in this area has been tremendous, and we thank everyone who shops and donates at our locations,” Baker said.
Goodwill Industries of Tenneva was established in 1972 in Scott County and is one of 165 Goodwill organizations in the U.S. and Canada, and 14 affiliated organizations in 13 other countries. It depends on donations and will accept clothes, furniture, housewares and tools, even vehicles. It won’t accept large appliances, personal care items, mattresses, carpet, building materials, weapons, cribs, tires, and household chemical products.
For information on where to bring your donation, visit goodwilltnva.org. Your support is greatly appreciated and will be put to good use.
The Crossville Chronicle on the holiday spirit:
The world is abuzz with the Christmas spirit, and one of the best ways we can make sure it lasts all year long is to share your blessings.
So many in our community can benefit from what we have to share, even if our bank accounts might be a little on the light side after Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday and Cyber Monday.
We offer only a few ways you can help, and it won’t cost a dime.
Handy with a hammer? Help Habitat for Humanity build affordable homes.
Want to help children? Kids on the Rise, CASA and tnAchieves offer avenues to advocate for and mentor the youngest Cumberland Countians.
Have a reliable vehicle? Offer someone without transportation a lift through the new MyRide service.
You can also help victims of domestic violence by donating time to Avalon, brighten an elderly individual’s day or help with tasks through Aging Services of the Upper Cumberland and give a caregiver a break and keep a patient company with Hospice of Cumberland County.
Want to see a child’s eyes light up this Christmas? Pitch in to help with Christmas on the Mountain, which makes sure youngsters have gifts under the tree. They’re going to be wrapping presents on Saturday, and they could use your help.
Got blood? Medic Regional Blood Center is always in need of blood donations, and the donation center on Main St. makes it convenient to give the gift of life.
You don’t have to crack open your checkbook — but that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t. These and many other agencies can always use monetary contributions.
Christmas on the Mountain is also accepting donations of new toys in its red barrels in various locations through the county.
We urge you to give what you can, whether it’s time and/or money. The blessing you give might just be surpassed by the blessing you’ll get.