During discussions about return to school options this month, my eldest daughter stated: “I’m going back, even if I have to wear a hazmat suit.” We all laughed. If only the decision were that easy.
On August 10, new data by Project Pandemic reported that more than 500 infections in Canada were linked to public exposures in public places, including schools and daycares. The public places with the highest number of exposures/infections, however, were grocery stores and bars/restaurants. Compared to the US, these numbers aren’t huge, but it does confirm that transmissions occur everywhere.
Teachers and parents are worried. Parents protested against the return to school plan. It’s too early. It’s too uncertain. It’s too dangerous. It’s the economy over health. Classrooms at capacity can’t properly physically distance kids. Many schools have poor ventilation. There isn’t enough funding to properly follow public health guidelines. It’s enough to keep any parent or teacher up at night.
Yet not everyone has the option of home schooling their kids. Some need their kids to go to school in order to go to work. Dr. Hinshaw has emphasized the mental wellbeing of children and their need to attend school; in fact, she’s made it clear that her own children will be going back. Still, the stress of the return to school echoes through the currently empty hallways.
But in a week, those hallways will fill with voices of joy. I decided to stop worrying about the grown-up stuff and ask my kids about their return to school fears. It really does put things into perspective a bit. Here are the questions and answers:
What worries you about going back to school?
Lalina (Grade 5): “I just hope everyone in my class is nice.”
Suvera (Grade 3): “That my teacher will get sick.”
Are you scared to get CoVID?
Lalina: “No because I’ll be wearing a mask and maybe a hazmat suit.”
Suvera: “I’m a little scared.”
Are you worried about an outbreak?
Lalina: “Not really”
Suvera: “A little because I don’t want to go back to Google meetings.”
What do you think about washing your hands all the time at school?
Lalina: “I already do that anyway.”
Suvera: “We were always supposed to wash our hands at school, Mom. Germs, remember?”
Are you scared to get a CoVID swab test?
Lalina: “If it has to go in my nose, put me under.”
Suvera: “I’d be more scared of the result than the test. I don’t want to get my friends sick.”
Are you worried about your safety at school?
Lalina: “No. It’ll probably be even safer than before with all the rules and stuff. And besides, even when you’re prepared, stuff can happen. So why worry when you can’t guarantee nothing will happen?”
Suvera: “I worry about friends or teachers getting sick, but I don’t think that has to do with safety. It’s just CoVID life now.”
What are you most excited about?
Lalina: “Just to go back. Man I’ve missed school.”
Suvera: “I’m most excited to meet my new teacher.”
If you could tell everyone in Drumheller in one word how you feel about going back, what word would you use?
And there you have it. From the voices that really matter in this madness.
Dear COVID-19 is a weekly column supplied by Drs. Rithesh and Veronique Ram.