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Dr. Deighan's Weekly Article - October 23, 2020

Dreams of Our Children
The Creature from the COVID Lagoon
October 23, 2020 by Tom Deighan
 
My childhood buddies and I loved watching old horror flicks that our local Tulsa station played late on Friday nights. I liked the black-and-white werewolves, Frankensteins, and blobs, but my favorite was The Creature from the Black Lagoon . . . until I learned that it was filmed in the same little pond as The Andy Griffith Show. I then imagined a better version: The Creature From the Black Lagoon Visits Mayberry! Poor Barney never saw it coming! (Spoiler alert: Floyd the Barber and the Creature are never seen together.)
 
The movies that scared us as kids make today’s kids laugh and roll their eyes, but they cannot even fathom other stuff that we lived with. You can see the terror sweep across their eyes as they imagine using a public payphone, but they don’t have to imagine a movie like The Creature From the Black Lagoon Visits Mayberry. They can just create one on the interweb, monetize in Bitcoins, and graduate high school a multi-millionaire. What us old folks once feared, they take for granted, and what they now take for granted, we fear.
 
The last few months have erased that gap, however. People from every age just want things “to go back to normal.” I have recently been working with a lot of people outside of Duncan, and they cannot believe we have been in school since August. Many adults who have been “virtual” are terrified to return, but their kids cannot wait to get back in school. Again, what frightens one generation makes another roll their eyes.
 
As tough as it has been to figure out school in the age of COVID, I am eternally grateful that we have managed to keep DPS open. It has been hard at times for DPS staff, but it has been hardest on those people who have had to be quarantined. When someone is quarantined, their lives and their families’ lives are turned upside down. They get little warning, but by law, they have no choice in the matter. Physicians are even powerless in the face of a quarantine order. People miss work. Students miss important events or games. And the worst part is that no one can help them make sense of it all.
 
Although schools assist health department officials in communicating to parents and staff, we cannot provide information that may even remotely identify people who may have COVID, and this infinitely frustrates the people quarantined. Schools must provide state officials with the information requested and answer all questions, but schools have no more choice in the matter than those being quarantined. Health department officials are overwhelmed, however, so if schools did not assist, they would have no choice but send multitudes home. Because DPS staff assists, group quarantines have been limited to relatively small groups, but that’s little comfort to the parents, students, or staff who have been quarantined as many as three times. (That’s six weeks!)
 
Ninety-five percent of people quarantined neither have COVID nor develop COVID, and they followed all the guidelines. They are isolated for simply being “possibly exposed.” Consequently, I do not fear COVID as much as I fear quarantine. For those of you who have been quarantined, I am sorry. I cannot imagine the frustration, especially when we cannot tell you much. Nevertheless, I am still accountable for it all, so if you have questions or have frustrations, please direct them to me personally.
 
Since coming here, I have told several people that Duncan reminds me of Mayberry. Little did I know, however, that the Creature from the COVID Lagoon would quarantine so many, but rest assured that in my version, the people of Mayberry eventually overcome the creature. Barney survives, and despite the rumors, Floyd the Barber was just in quarantine. I cannot fathom the frustrations of those quarantined, and I doubt this article makes quarantines easier for anyone, but I bet you will never again whistle the Mayberry song again without thinking of The Creature of the Black Lagoon. I also bet that makes you smile a little, and in the age of COVID, I will take whatever little wins I can get.
 
By grace,
Tom Deighan
Superintendent
Duncan Public Schools
 
Public educators welcome all . . . serve all . . . love all.