Last Monday, the Owen-Withee School Board decided on the measures they will take to reopen the schools for the Fall. One of those measures was to recommend, but not require, the wearing of masks. That lasted until Saturday, when Governor Tony Evers mask mandate went into effect. That decision may or may not be overturned thanks to the newly elected Wisconsin Supreme Court justice who may or may not side with the governor, as opposed to the last decision handed down.
This is the way the school year ended, Summer School has progressed, and Fall awaits in limbo—with a determined Owen-Withee administration and school board wrestling with a fluid and ever-changing landscape.
On that last school board meeting, last Monday, I sat in attendance listening to a well-conceived and thoughtful plan put forth by the Owen-Withee administrators: Bob Houts, Julie Van Ark, and Matt Cihlar.
In attendance also were teachers and parents. The administration’s plan was made to ensure that instruction would continue and that students’ safety could be maintained. The administration had surveyed teachers and parents and tried their best to answer the needs and wishes of the community in the implementation of the Fall plan.
As I sat there listening, I was impressed and more than a little moved at the lengths to which the administration and school board would go toward their twin goals of safety and instruction. They also prepared for the unhoped-for possibility of another total shutdown.
In the midst of this turmoil, the Owen-Withee school district community should be grateful and honored to have such thinkers in charge of their children’s health and education.
And maybe those students will grow up with a better appreciation for civic responsibility than so many of the adults during this time of pandemic.
All over social media and in restaurants and bars, people are defying the governor’s order. Several Wisconsin sheriffs have thumped their chests and claimed that they would not enforce the governor’s order. All in the name of freedom.
I cherish the freedoms we enjoyed in the United States but deliberately endangering lives, especially of the young and the very old, was never what freedom is about. If you want to defend your freedoms and are willing to die for it, then join the armed services, pick up a rifle, and stand your post. Going without a mask isn’t brave, it’s reckless.
Besides, there is something more important than your personal liberty. It’s called responsibility.
Civic responsibility is not about just fighting for liberty—yours more than others—but is also about securing the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness of others. That is civic responsibility.
Rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin. If you wish to have your rights, you must fulfill the corresponding responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities are not limited to the government but are a part of our daily lives, as well. We need to be aware of our rights and responsibilities pertaining to our house, society, municipality, state or the country.
Rights and duties of every citizen are extremely valuable and inter-related. Every state or country provides its citizens with a set of fundamental civil rights which includes personal rights, religious rights, economic rights, moral rights, social rights and political rights.
But it also demands the responsible duties of the citizenry to adhere to the laws, statutes, ordinances, and orders of the elected government.
In other words, stop putting yourself above the safety of others in the community or even your own family. If you don’t want to wear protective face covering, stay home.
Besides, I see far fewer ugly people when everyone is wearing a mask.
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