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Decision to delay the school year was beyond Trustees’ control, but it was the right decision

You could tell this was not something they wanted to do. They had even voted against the idea less than a week ago.

But Wednesday’s decision by the Vicksburg Warren School District Board of Trustees to push back the start of school to Aug. 17, was something that was forced upon them. They had no choice.

After nearly five months of this pandemic, everyone continues to wage a war to get enough toilet paper, cleaning supplies and gloves, and the school district is no exception. Their vote to delay school Wednesday was due in part to slowed orders of vital personal protective equipment needed to open.

A lack of manpower added to their decision. It was not on the part of the district’s teachers, staff and administration but a crucial vendor who provides custodial services to the district. And of all years, the enhanced cleaning called for in our classrooms, meeting rooms and common areas has never been more important.

Superintendent Chad Shealy said the district’s custodial partner was not able to hire the needed staff in the days leading up to the original start date, and they were just recently able to ramp up hiring.

Much in the same way the school system had delays in supplies and personal protective equipment, the vendor’s hiring struggles were beyond the district’s control but still played a role in forcing Wednesday’s decision.

While many will be frustrated by the delay, this does come with a silver lining. Not only does it allow the district to get the important protective equipment it needs to fulfill their safety and reopening plans, it also allows construction crews a few extra days to get schools a little more ready for students to return.

We know the contractor working on rebuilding Rosa A. Temple Drive near the junior high schools is tremendously appreciative of the extra time.

Even in the face of COVID-19, we have long applauded the moves the district has taken to thoughtfully and methodically plan for the start of a school year that provides both an in-person and distance learning options for our children. We also applaud Wednesday’s decision.

Our school leaders cannot control Amazon’s shipments, nor can they simply wish their custodial vendor was fully staffed and prepared for the year. These were forces beyond their control, but they took the proper steps and gave themselves a few extra days to make sure everyone and everything is ready for one of the most important school years in memory.

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