Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 17, 2021

Thoughts From The Publisher’s Desk – December 17, 2021

There are currently nine Superintendent of Schools vacancies in Maryland school systems. Most of these have been through announced retirements, including in Wicomico County and the most recent being in Frederick County this week where an embattled superintendent opted to retire days after being put on an administrative leave after a justice probe found mistreatment of students with disabilities.

This wave of public school retirements is representative of what’s happening across the country during the pandemic. Whether it’s called “The Great Resignation” or “The Great Retirement,” the fact is many people are facing the realities brought on by the pandemic. Some older workers’ decisions could be tied to accepting a buyout as they near retiring age, increasing technology needs through remote working, concerns over contracting COVID-19 while working or seeing their retirements accounts grow enough in recent years to feel like the time is right.

Whatever the case, governments everywhere seem to be dealing with departures among senior staffers. It’s especially pronounced in education where employees in all facets of school systems are pressured like never before. For those wondering, Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Lou Taylor signed a new four-year contract earlier this year. Taylor said during an informal non-school meeting last week he remains committed to the public school system and has every intention of continuing to serve through his term.

Though the incident occurred in Glen Burnie, it was noteworthy this week this media outlet, and presumably most across the state, was provided with police body-worn camera footage of the incident. With Ocean City police beginning to donthe body cameras next summer, it’s an interesting practice to note.

After a suspect refused to comply with repeated orders from police, a man walking toward police holding a knife was fatally shot. The suspect’s mother was later found in the house dead as a result of trauma. For news purposes here, the most germane part of the case was how the Independent Investigations Division (IID) of the Office of the Attorney General handled the release of the body camera footage. A link to the video was embedded in a press release about the incident with a disclaimer outlining how such high-profile cases will be handled moving forward.

The release stated, “The IID will generally release body camera footage or dashboard camera footage within 14 days of an incident.  There may be situations where more than 14 days is necessary, including if investigators need more time to complete witness interviews, if there are technical delays caused by the need to shield the identities of civilian witnesses, or to allow family members to view the video before it is released to the public.”

Though body camera poses a host of logistical issues for police departments, namely funding the cloud storage requirements for saving these videos, Ocean City is doing the right thing moving forward on this front. In situations like last summer’s sensational arrests of individuals requiring force, access to the video within two weeks will help clarify questions surrounding the incidents in a timely fashion.

Vaccination is a matter of personal choice. I received my third shot last month. My wife did as well, and both my kids are double vaccinated. I am a believer and trust the science that it’s best for us and those around us. Approximately one quarter of Worcester County’s population is not vaccinated currently, and the great majority of those are choosing to not get the shot for their own personal reasons. I agree with those who are losing patience with this group. On the unvaccinated and the growing volume of current COVID-19 positive hospitalizations, an emergency room doctor recently told me, “It appears that we are at this point burning through the unvaccinated,” referring to none of the patients currently hospitalized being vaccinated. This opinion piece, headlined, “I’m furious at the unvaccinated,” from New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow on Sunday sums up what many are feeling now. Some excerpts to share, but you can find the whole piece online with a quick search.

“I have heard all the reasons for resistance. There are the people who have politicized the virus and see getting vaccinated through a partisan lens. There are the people who view government pressure, and especially mandates, to put something in your body as overreach and anathema to the American ideal of independence and freedom. There are people who don’t trust the government, sometimes with good reason,” the opinion read. “I have heard it all. And I reject it all. … We now have to consider the very real possibility that the virus will not be eradicated, but will become endemic. … Even if eradication is all but impossible, it is possible to control the virus and mitigate its spread, if more people are vaccinated. So yes, I am furious at the unvaccinated, and I am not ashamed of disclosing that. I am no longer trying to understand them or educate them. Barriers to access have fallen. The only reason for remaining unvaccinated that I now accept is from people who have medical conditions that prevent it. … All others have a choice to either be part of the solution or part of the problem. The unvaccinated are choosing to be part of the problem.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.