As we ease into a New Year it comes with the promise that COVID-19’s grasp may soon be loosened thanks to a number of vaccines being put into circulation.

This, of course, is no reason to get lazy with social distancing. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and we want to see as many people make it to the finish line as possible.

So continue to make smart choices. Those who celebrated the New Year with your immediate family, so many New Year Eve’s in the future can be celebrated in proper fashion — with family, lots of friends and complete strangers — we thank you. It wasn’t an easy sacrifice to make considering how many we had to make in the year we will not mention again.

The coronavirus death of 41-year-old Congressman-elect Luke Letlow from Louisiana last week should be a stark reminder that while this disease does pose more of a threat to senior citizens, it doesn’t discriminate.

We’ve been writing about the threat this virus poses since March. How Geisinger and Evangelical Community Hospital have been working to help the sick and prevent the spread of the virus. How businesses have sacrificed so much to keep their communities safe.

One story we haven’t had to write about in the region, thankfully, is a serious breakout in a school.

It seems students, teachers and other personnel are following social distancing rules and staying home when they are sick. When there is an outbreak, schools act swiftly, contact tracing is done and, if necessary, schools go to a virtual model.

This week, Danville school directors plan to discuss bringing students back into the classroom earlier than originally planned due to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changing quarantine guidelines from 14 days to 10 days. It also comes as Gov. Tom Wolf’s latest mitigation orders expire this morning.

Danville’s expected adjustment is from all-virtual to hybrid learning on Jan. 11 instead of Jan. 18. Many students learn better and many teachers are more effective in classroom environments, even on an every-other-day hybrid schedule, that’s why they are making this push.

Over the last few days of 2020, case numbers increased in Pennsylvania, approaching 9,000 cases again. There is cause for concern, of course, especially with the potential for a one-two surge from the back-to-back Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

“Everybody knows how valuable it is for kids to be in the classroom, but we are really driven by our requirements and the health and safety of our district as a whole,” said Danville School Board President Chris Huron.

School officials have proven able to control cases, stay fluid with learning models and make the tough decisions when necessary.

Trust they will continue to do so and shift gears in the other direction two weeks from now if that’s the way the wind blows.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman and News Editor Eric Pehowic.

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