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Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Editorial: Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

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Thumbs Up … to the Davenport School District for its decision to delay the start of the school year until Sept. 8. The district had wanted to rely heavily on online learning to start the year on Aug. 24. But the district, along with others across the state, were thrown for a loop by Gov. Kim Reynolds a few weeks ago with her last-minute order that districts needed to offer in-person instruction at least half the time, even at the start of the year.

Parents could opt out, according to the governor’s plan, but districts that wanted a waiver have to meet an impossibly high bar.

This is why some districts have moved to openly defy the governor.

Davenport’s decision to delay school a couple weeks is the right move. We have said previously we are concerned about an all-online instruction model, but we also trust local school district officials, rather than Des Moines, to make the right decisions.

Currently, we’re seeing a downward trend in cases in Scott County. But, experts tell us, we still are far higher than we need to be to get this under control. We also know the history is that once people see progress, they let their guard down. Then the curve heads straight back up.

Our hope is that people will continue to do the right thing — wear a mask and socially distance — and that more will join the fight so we are able to send our kids back to school in a manner that is workable for educators and public health leaders — and, most importantly, students and families who have a right to a safe learning environment that offers an enriching education.

Thumbs Down … to a legislative panel in Illinois for handcuffing local governments when it comes to their share of federal coronavirus aid. The General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules this week approved distribution of $200 million in federal CARES Act funding to cities and counties. But it upheld a rule preventing local governments from using the funds for direct aid to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Municipal governments are objecting.

“The federal government says that communities can use the dollars for local economic support, but (the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, or DCEO) says we can’t,” Brad Cole, executive director of the Illinois Municipal League, said, according to Capitol News Illinois.

The state has set up a separate program to aid businesses, and the DCEO’s chief executive said the concern is the state still carries the liability if the federal money isn’t used correctly at the local level.

We have more confidence in our local governments than the state apparently does, and we agree with the municipal league this restriction is not fair. This is a time of great need in the Illinois Quad-Cities, which faces an uneven playing field with its Iowa neighbors. Besides, this restriction isn’t being applied to the five large counties and the City of Chicago that are direct recipients of federal money.

Thumbs Down … to the continued power outage in the Quad-Cities that is leaving thousands of people without electricity.

What only a few days ago looked like a surmountable challenge — a hardship, to be sure, but one that we could withstand — has now turned into a slog. As of this writing, thousands of Quad-Citians still are without power four days after Monday’s devastating derecho struck the Midwest, leaving a trail of damage.

MidAmerican Energy crews are struggling mightily to restore service; yet, the outage map that tracks the numbers in misery has only grudgingly moved as the week has worn on.

Blocks upon blocks of houses still are dark. Food goes to waste in refrigerators and freezers.

How long will it be until power is restored? Nobody can say for sure.

Early in the week, we humbly suggested patience, as did the authorities. But we knew that like that food, patience is a perishable commodity. That it is wearing thin is apparent in social media posts and in conversations among neighbors.

Those without power can certainly find others who are less fortunate; three people died in Iowa due to the storm, so many have sustained damage to their homes and others have health issues that make the lack of power less an inconvenience and instead a real threat. Yet, as the days wear on, perspective is getting harder to sustain.

Is your power on yet?

Perhaps later today. We hope.


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