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The Tuesday After Labor Day

As August is about to be in the rear-view mirror, I have so many thoughts as the kids head back to school. I am sure many parents, grandparents, and those who take care of the kids over the summer are happy to hear the words “school’s open,” which I always follow up with “drive safely” this time of year. I’ll begin my column with that public service message that is always so important with a little twist.

Think about all the bad driving you’ve seen recently. Now combine that with a little bit of honesty about the times you’ve been distracted and may have made a mistake. I will use a broad brush when it comes to the word mistake, from maybe not looking behind you when you’re leaving the driveway to not seeing the highway sign, signal, or traffic pattern you should be following to possibly going too fast at some point in your travels. These are often-occurring common mistakes almost all of us make and get away with, most of the time.

No matter how safely you drive, the opportunity is always present for that split second of distraction. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the electronic device of your choosing — even when you follow the laws and safety guidelines. Back to that blatant honesty, your mind tends to focus on conversations or even the podcast or book you’re listening to. I think it’s safe to say there’s never been more distractions while driving.

I also think it is safe to say there are just more bad drivers that don’t really seem to care. This is a bad combination. So, back to where I began, whether it’s preschool or a college campus you encounter while behind the wheel, stay focused and pay a little closer attention. Use your common sense and avoid high-traffic school zones whenever possible. Please identify the bus stops and daily bus routes and leave a little extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This holds true whether you’re traveling in town or the most remote parts of our area. Allow extra time for that morning or afternoon commute; this is especially important in areas where there is construction and until the new school year finds its normal pattern. There is nothing more important than our children. Please help and do everything possible to keep them safe on their journey through life.

So, that gets me to the more things change, the more they move away from common sense thought of the week. Why, especially in our area, the home of the Little League World Series, do the school districts not wait until the Tuesday after Labor Day to begin classes? This excludes construction, a mold issue, or any unforeseen circumstances they may face. You can even take the Little League World Series out of the equation; in my simple mind, the best way to get the students back in a normal routine is to begin the day after Labor Day and not immediately have vacation days built into the school year. Not to mention, wouldn’t it be easier for parents, teachers, coaches, and the world to know this is the schedule every year?

That gets me to my next thought. Doesn’t it make sense for every school district, not only in our area but in the state of Pennsylvania, to follow this Tuesday after Labor Day is back-toschool day routine? Back to where I began my column, it makes good common sense for everybody to know that school always begins the day after Labor Day. The general public is conditioned to that date and to pay extra close attention to what’s going on around them. Every public service message is then in play across the state for the new school year. I believe there are four different start dates for school districts just in the West Branch Valley this year.

I would really blow some people’s minds if I suggested that the school schedules statewide mirrored each other, including the same ending date in early June. Again, I understand construction and the unforeseen may play a factor. However, with all the strides made since COVID with remote learning, you would think this would be possible in today’s world.

Please don’t take this the wrong way; I don’t believe there’s any better learning opportunity than kids to be in a classroom with their teacher. Nor do I think when there is a big snowfall, kids should lose the opportunity to get out and enjoy that snow day in the name of remote learning. I would just like to see the money spent on remote learning and the practical use of this concept optimized. And when school is canceled without that big snowfall, the day is not a day of lost learning.

I had better stop here, or the next thing I will suggest is that local schools play each other instead of traveling across the state, and this is in all sports. I then might even mention the return and importance of rivalry games — and who would want that to happen?

Let’s all be safe out there and look out for our children.

God Bless America.

Jim Webb