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Who is brave enough to make vaccines mandatory to return to high school?

It was Churchill who once suggested that "democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others." No real argument from this corner, except for how this anti-mask/anti-vaccine confederation demands the flaming need for a benevolent dictatorship.

It begins here: Find me the first superintendent of schools in Connecticut courageous enough — or perhaps simply responsible enough — to issue the following missive:

"You may not return to high school this fall without being fully vaccinated. This applies to students, faculty, staff and administration. All unvaccinated students must be home-schooled and may not participate in extracurricular activities. All employees will not be paid once their sick, vacation and personal time runs out."

Can someone do that? Can someone send the message that thinking members of society will no longer tolerate unfounded moral outrage?

Let them try to sue. That'll be a hoot. Somebody's got to be brave enough to stand up for the segment of society that has tried to do the right thing, only to watch COVID-19 surge again because people with epidemiology degrees from Facebook blather, bloviate and bully the rest of us into submission.

This just in: COVID isn't going anywhere. It is endemic. Vaccines for the eligible and masks for everyone else in the interim ought to be mandatory. Did you read that word? Mandatory. And should thou who doth protest too much begin to protest too much, I refer to Stump Merrill's line when he was here managing the Navigators, addressing a player about to disagree with him: Stump said, "Remember: This is a monologue. Not a dialogue."

Ah, the benevolent dictatorship.

I'm tired of listening to every Tom, Dick and Harriet gleefully dismiss the efficacy of the vaccine when a vaccinated person contracts COVID, using it as the rule rather than the exception. Example: The flu shot doesn't preclude us from getting the flu. It just mitigates the symptoms. It's the best — and only — answer with COVID here to stay.

I'd also suggest that getting vaccinated and wearing a mask in the meantime also protects kids under 12 who aren't eligible for the shots yet. But then, there goes that pesky idealism again. Imagine. The idea that these people have the bandwidth to process any kind of greater good concept. There is no greater good in their world. There is only their world.

I might entertain their billowing if it even hinted at principle. It doesn't. It is entirely about being right. Their need to be right. That's it. That's who we've become.

Author Jen Sincero managed a direct hit in her latest book, writing on "the certain driving force that all but the most highly evolved humans fall prey to on a daily basis: the human need to be right. There are few things that make the human heart sing more than getting every answer right on a test or than discovering that you, not your friend, who kept you waiting for an hour, wrote down the correct time to meet.

"We literally kill one another because we righteously believe this is land is my land, not your land, that we should govern, worship, love, appear and generally just behave the way you deem is the correct way. ... Because of our hell-bent dedication to being right, when it comes to our favorite topic — ourselves — we will defend our identities to the death, even if we're miserable and our identities aren't something we're proud of."

Translation: It's all rhetoric.

Leaders of school systems should experiment with the principles of benevolent dictatorships for many reasons, not the least of which is to mitigate the effects of COVID on kids, teachers and administrators. Then there's a lesser reason, but still pertinent to the sports section: Don't be naïve enough to think that COVID won't disrupt the high school sports season.

Current numbers from the state say that about 54 percent of people ages 16-24 have received both vaccine shots in Connecticut. That's not nearly enough. COVID denied about 9,000 kids a football season last year. And while I do not believe the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference has any plans to cancel the 2021 season, a COVID outbreak among a football team can do wonders for ruining a season.

COVID was prevalent during the spring season. Baseball teams in the ECC were shut down for quarantine periods. If that happens in football, the rest period required between games dictates that football can't be rescheduled arbitrarily. Games will be missed. Opportunities will be missed. The playoffs might be missed. And for what?

Look around. Several members of the Yankees just missed the recent series in Boston because of COVID. Now Gerrit Cole and Jordan Montgomery have it. Katie Lou Samuelson, Bradley Beal and Coco Gauff missed the Olympics. COVID is not going away. And now is the time to get tough. Now is the time to alert all the anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers there will be consequences.

Thinking members of society don't just need to be heard. They need an attitude to accompany their voices. The apocalyptic growls about "liberty" and "freedom" are empty rhetoric. We can start right here, right now. Want to go back to high school? Play sports? Get the shots.

Or stay home. You're not invited in.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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