Ask any “old-timer” and they’ll tell you “we’ll get through this and be better for it.”

Oh, how we hope that’s true. In the past, people did. Each generation is the result of their success at overcoming hardship and getting on with life, howbeit a changed life. The lessons learned stuck and were passed along to the next branch of the family tree, until the need for overcoming was forgotten.

How can anything good come from living through a pandemic that wipes out entire families and destroys a nation’s economy? Think President Roosevelt, who along with patriotic Americans, brought the country through the Great Depression and that generation turned right around and fought in World War II. They managed to come out on the other side with dignity and honor by being loyal and honorable under duress. Yes, it took leadership. No, it was not easy. It can be done because it has been done. It takes a unified mindset that is determined to plod ahead while still fighting on more than one front. It was not easy. It’s what had to be done and it was successful.

We, in 2020, are facing the what-ifs and “should we” questions every day. We muster strength in knowing we’re doing the right thing for the greatest number of people. But doing the right thing can sometimes not be the best thing for everyone.

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Returning to in-person classes this fall is one of those questions officials have been pondering since March. With no central guidelines, it has been up to the better judgment of local school officials across the country. If we were dealing with adults only, it would be a much simpler decision, one would think. But kids are not accustomed to social distancing and rules for teens are meant to be broken, simply because they are rules.

College officials will deal differently than elementary school boards. Many universities are offering choices of in-person classes where social distancing is possible, as well as online classes where students can work from home or from campus dorms. They are the lucky ones if they can finish their advanced degrees in that manner. But with youngsters, it’s a much more complicated situation.

During March of this year, just trying to process what was needed in order to teach art classes was mind-boggling. That the students managed to find supplies and materials to do anything prohibited some from doing their best. Younger students, high school through middle school and even elementary kiddos need more social interaction because their brains are still developing and they need to be able to see how so-and-so does stuff in order to know how they are expected to act ... to behave.

Jamestown’s school-kids will make it through to the other side just as past generations did. They will learn and be able to hold jobs, have careers and build loving families. The pandemic won’t stop that. Sure, maybe it will delay some things. But delays teach valuable lessons too. Detours in life are not dead ends. Detours teach us how to navigate around problems and by doing so, we build tools we never forget how to use. It’s called creative thinking.

Youngsters need encouragement as well as opportunities for failure. We all can benefit from the time we’ve spent during the pandemic as we’ve learned to make do with the realities of being safe. School will happen and life will be better.

f anyone has an item for this column, please contact Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.