After perusing through an old journalism text book looking for inspiration, this gem of a quote appeared – “Few things unite or tear a community apart as much as schools.”

There is joy and sorrow to that sentence. An old newspaper editor always said people mainly care about their kids and their money. Both are at stake with Belgrade Schools poised to start.

Being a decision maker is a thankless job, regardless of what anyone thinks. A Belgrade School Board trustee is probably the epitome of a thankless job. But it is a necessary job that cements local control of our schools, to the best of our abilities.

The district had three options to open this fall – in class like usual, online like last spring or a blend of the two. On Thursday, the Belgrade School Board, with a 5-2 split, approved a blended model to operate the school district. There will be a mix of in-class and online learning.

This wasn’t an easy choice for anyone involved. There is a healthy mix of pros and cons to each choice. And Thursday’s choice may not be the final say if infection numbers rise. It just depends on the situation. The local health department won’t tell school officials how many positive cases could shut the district down. The only answer given is “it’s case specific.”

Without a solid template, the only thing schools can count on is themselves and possible change. As Superintendent Godfrey Saunders said Thursday, “There are no absolutes.”

He also said something else important.

“This is not political at all,” he said at the beginning of the meeting regarding the method of school opening. “This is about kids, our families, our teachers and everyone who works for the district.”

The hard reality facing families of anything other than a full-time option is childcare. Whether the household has both parents or just one, kids are going to be at home and it won’t be easy either logistically or financially.

There is a fix at hand, however. The best and easiest way to return to normal is to wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance.

Now is the time for empathy; where the community comes together to find solutions for the situation we’re in at the moment. Take this virus seriously.