Cooperation will open our communities back up

| August 21, 2020 9:31 AM

To the editor:

The dilemma facing our town’s businesses and schools reflects what we have wrestled with in our homes for six months. The questions are many and the answers elusive. Do I work, not work, or work with protection? Do I see friends, avoid them, or see some friends with protection? How much protection is needed? Do masks or face shields work or not? Is this just overreach by those with political agendas?

I know few things for certain and struggle to find answers.

I do know that our valley has a large number of vulnerable, lung-compromised folks that seem to fare poorly with this virus. I know that we have shouting matches and near fistfights occurring between people who don’t agree on preventative measures or when folks try to enforce the rules they have been given as a requirement to open their doors to the public. I’m quite sure the next decade will be busy in our courts as we battle the constitutionality of the COVID-19 shutdown and related policies. Right now, none of this helps our town or our families.

I know that shuttered businesses, keeping people out of work, could collapse our tenuous local economy. I think I know that our children are better off with face-to-face learning. I have a daughter who teaches and my grandkids attend our schools.

Amidst this uncertainty, I have a request of fellow community members: Let’s work on this together so that our town can open up.

Businesses and schools have been given guidelines about masks and social distancing. Disagreements on those guidelines will be settled in court, but to operate, they are developing plans to meet those requirements and protect customers, students and staff while meeting the needs of the working moms and dads that will be asked to abide by the plans they implement. Everyone involved has their hands full as they try to find a balance that works.

Libby has been through tough times before. I know that our community has a strong will to move forward even when the framework for decision-making is murky and the outcome unclear. We are in such a time. And while the outcome is unsure, the current state-of-affairs stinks. If moving forward means we need to follow a few rules while still arguing over the need and motive for those rules or the constitutionality of those rules, let’s do what is needed for our schools and businesses to open up.

While I search to find information I can fully believe, I am masking up, socially distancing and supporting our town’s reopening efforts. I am trying to be kind in my interactions with those who have opinions that differ from mine. I do this in hopes that our wonderfully strong-willed town will work together and reach the end of this nightmare with schools open, businesses open, and with friends and family healthy and able to hug each other again — with or without agreement on the issue or the remedies.

Bruce Vincent