Over the past six weeks of alerts and closures concerning the pandemic, there is much to be learned and accomplished while staying at home. The learning and the possible accomplishments go far beyond the education of our students.

With the additional “at home time,” I was able to get many jobs done that had been on the to-do list for years. Many of the jobs I have started but not necessarily totally completed include some rather mundane tasks.

One of the first things I undertook was cleaning out the overstuffed bookcase in my office. Yes, this is very mundane, but I had ignored the need to clear the bookcase and instead just stuffed more books into the already full bookcase.

Many of the books were fictional books, but some were more instructive books concerning various subjects. Yes, there were dictionaries and the thesaurus, but also there were books concerning building codes, accounting practices and sports history. There were several books concerning our experiences when stationed in Germany.

As I was preparing many of the books for potential donation to various groups and libraries, I was reminded to check the books for any items that might have been stuck between the pages. What a surprise when I discovered a photo of my mother and me taken in 1944. That book was evidently one of my mother’s books that had ended up in my collection. On the picture was a note to my father who was stationed in Europe during WWII, when I was born. That picture was in fact his first view of me. I will never forget the moment I first saw that picture.

As I boxed up many of the books for donation, I realized the library was closed, so I moved the boxes into out garage area. This move led me to job two on the to-do list.

Since we moved to Florence almost 11 years ago there have been boxes of memorabilia stored on shelves in the garage. There were boxes labeled for our sons, boxes marked for Army memorabilia, boxes filled with Star War toys and boxes of games such as Trivial Pursuit, Boggle, Monopoly and many others.

I also rediscovered the 1950-ish Lionel train set from my childhood. While going through these various boxes, I also discovered many other photographs and significant papers. There were birth certificates, diplomas, awards, the letter the hospital sent to my father announcing my birth and many others.

During this same time, I was also introduced to home schooling. While I had read a lot about it, I was essentially ignorant about how it worked. It so happened that my cousin’s son and family stopped over on their trip to Florida. While staying at our home, their daughter, a second-grader, had an online school event. She, along with her classmates, participated in the event, and they performed a play together on Zoom. She and her classmates, along with the teachers, were fully engaged. They could see each other, interact with each other and share their thoughts about their week, proving distance is not a factor for a classroom environment. Her school is in Virginia, and she was here in Florence.

Following my observation of this online classroom, I talked to both of our sons and their families about how home schooling is happening here locally and in Massachusetts. Mind-boggling is an understatement! The ability of the teachers to change their delivery and still motivate and teach children is amazing.

Despite what a Harvard professor opines, parents are the key to educating their children and always have been. We as a public don’t need to fear authoritarian parents but instead dimwitted professors selling their misguided opinions. If we can educate children online with parent participation, I don’t see the problem, and maybe that points the way forward.

Since we can educate our children online, why can’t Congresses work online? The U.S. Congress as well as the S.C. legislature needs to get business done in a timelier manner instead of hiding behind weak excuses. The state legislature has not yet passed a 2021 budget. The new fiscal year begins on July 1. One of the excuses is the virus and the need to stay isolated. That excuse is weak at best.

The same is true of the U.S. Congress. There is work to be done now, and further delay is not acceptable. In both cases, the members of those legislatures accept their pay and benefits even when they can’t, or won’t, perform their basic duties. Maybe it is time to withhold their paychecks. I imagine they will find a way to safely get their work done then.

Months ago, I wrote that I intended to stay positive, and I will close on a positive note. The various restrictions and guidelines implemented due to the COVID-19 virus have been mostly negative. Some of what I mentioned above can and should have a positive impact on our lives.

It is up to us to find the positive. Turn off the various news channels and find the ’60s and ’70s reruns. Not only are they more entertaining, they generally are also more positive.

Citizen Columnist Thomas J. Sheehy retired from the U.S. Army following 26 years on active duty. He and his wife of 48 years moved to Florence in 2009. They have two sons and four wonderful grandchildren. Contact Sheehy at citizencolumnist@florencenews.com.

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