Editorial: Remain vigilant  

Two major things happened on Mount Desert Island this week: students returned to school for in-person instruction, and we learned that we could again welcome our friends from Massachusetts to visit without restriction. Likewise, we can all now go and visit the beaches of Cape Cod or view the changing leaves in the Berkshires without having to quarantine upon return.  In normal years, neither of these things would seem worthy of a sentence, let alone space on a newspaper’s editorial page, but this has not been a normal year.  

In March, students and teachers hastily departed from their classrooms without knowing what would happen next. While desk calendars stayed fixed on March in empty classrooms across the island, school administration tried their best to patch together resources and support for the remainder of the year. It was difficult by almost all metrics, with education and sanity suffering the most.  

A return to school at any level signals a return to normalcy, but let us not forget that we are in the middle of a pandemic and we need to remain vigilant in every social interaction.  

Most educators will agree that in-person instruction is in the best interest of a student. If children are confused or have a question, it will show on their faces before they think to ask for help. Teachers are trained to pick up on those cues. Without face-to-face instruction, much of that is missedWe also know that students fare better overall in a classroom setting and thrive when they are among their peers.  

And to say we’ve missed our neighbors to the south would be an understatement. Maine and Massachusetts have had a long history of travel and adventure with one another. Many residents of Massachusetts own second homes in the Pine Tree state and travel back and forth throughout the summer.  

Massachusetts tourists make up the bulk of fall tourism numbers as well, which recently prompted the town’s Chamber of Commerce to once again push for an unfettered return for our friends (and family) from the south 

We know from last year’s parking meter data in Bar Harbor that Massachusetts drivers generated 7,679 transactions for parking on Bar Harbor streets, coming in just behind Mainers, who accounted for 8,646 transactions and ahead of New Yorkers, who accounted for 4,384 transactions. All of these fees helped to add to the bottom line of collections, which totaled $1,663,190 during the 2019 year.  

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Maine has been committed to the heath of its citizens and the strategy is serving us well. We applaud the hardline that the Governor is taking, and we appreciate that the decisions are made with the best data and science available. But we also know how important it is for our local businesses to have the busiest fall season possible to help them make it into the next one.  

As we return to school and welcome back our friends and family from the Bay State, let’s do it while wearing masks and remaining 6 feet apart. Until we have a vaccine ready to be distributed to the general public, we must remain vigilant.  

Mainers are doing a great job. Let’s keep it up.   

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