The world is once again changing.
First, it changed when a worldwide pandemic threw our lives into disarray in ways not seen in over 100 years. Now, we are starting to see things change back, getting closer to what the world was like prior to the arrival of COVID-19.
Of course, we aren’t back to “normal” just yet, and may never be. You don’t go through what we’ve gone through in the past two years without it leaving scars. It’s likely our world, country, state, and community will never quite be the same as it was prior to March of 2020. Yet, as most mitigation protocols are being lifted around the country and people are returning to their pre-COVID routines, it seems most are ready to “get back out there.”
For those comfortable doing so, might we suggest now as the right time locally, for very different reasons.
First, in the coming weeks young thespians at Dodd Middle School and Cheshire High School will be performing spring plays. The student-actors will take to the stage to sing, dance, and bring to life some popular productions familiar to young and old alike. They could use the support — the cheers and laughter — of an excited audience.
We’ve spent quite a bit of time over these last two years examining how pandemic-related restrictions have impacted athletes and their contests, but the truth is that those students in other clubs and groups around town have been affected just as much if not more. Many saw their performances canceled these last two years, or altered dramatically. They were in many instances denied the opportunity to fully experience the joy that comes with the big moment where their hard work in rehearsals is put on display for family and friends.
Now, with almost all restrictions lifted, these performers are assuredly hoping to look out into a packed audience ready to cheer on their efforts. They deserve a standing ovation.
Away from the schools, the Town Council is about to embark on a weeks-long deliberation over the proposed budget, put forth late last week by Town Manager Sean Kimball. The spending plan is calling for an increase of nearly 3% over the current budget.
This is a tricky moment for the community. On the one hand, Cheshire has weathered the terrible storm of COVID-19 about as well as could possibly have been imagined, with new businesses opening and new developments planned. On the other hand, the overall economy is in a state of upheaval right now with inflation rising to levels not seen in decades and crises around the world making it difficult to predict exactly when fortunes will change for the positive.
Add on the looming school modernization plan, the first phase of which is expected to be sent to referendum this fall, and you have a lot of forces pushing and pulling at each other all at once.
That’s why the opinion of the public is so important. As the Council navigates this process, it will need to hear from the people most impacted by Councilors’ decisions. How will a higher tax bill impact local residents, especially those on a fixed income? How will any cuts to the education budget impact students, many of whom may be trying to play catch-up on their learning after two very difficult years in school? This is the time to turn out and let your opinions be heard. It’s always been important, but it’s necessary now more than ever.
The transition back into “normal” life will be difficult for some, and that’s understandable. COVID-19 hasn’t gone anywhere, and it would behoove us all to remember that as we transition to our pre-pandemic routines. But there are good reasons to get back out there over the coming weeks and show support for the community … in all different sorts of ways.