Today is my kids’ first day of school. Their first day in-person since March 2020.
For the last month, as this day grew closer and our province’s Covid cases rose, I’ve been a writhing ball of anxiety. Yesterday, I kept breaking down crying. Today, I am just numb.
I’ve spent countless hours advocating for safer schools (with some wins – our board has instated more safety measures than many others: a mask mandate for all students, and mandatory vaccines for staff by September 30 among others), but there’s so much more that could be done that isn’t happening.
It feels like everyone has just resigned themselves to letting kids catch Covid, because it’s too expensive, or too bothersome to try and avoid it. (Think I’m exaggerating? Our Chief Medical Officer of Health says we need to “normalize Covid in schools,” our Science Table head says unvaccinated people have an 80-90% likelihood of catching Covid in the next year, and an epidemiologist at Sick Kids’ Hospital says kids in public school will catch Covid this year.)
Vaccines for children are only a few months away, yet everyone wants to rush right back to “normal” and pretend the pandemic is already over, despite being faced with a more contagious and dangerous variant. And while kids may have a lower risk of severe outcomes than adults, a small percentage of a big number is still a big number.
(For those of you keeping score at home, that’s both a hospitalization and death rate higher than Polio.)
On top of that, we don’t know (and won’t know for years) if people who had even asymptomatic Covid are at risk for a post-viral condition years later (like with Polio, where 20-50% of survivors develop Post Polio syndrome anywhere from 10-40 years later. Heck, even a Chicken Pox infection can turn into Shingles some 30-40 years later). And then a recent study even found that 100% of macaques who were infected with Covid developed Lewy Bodies – an indicator for Parkinson’s Disease.
We could be setting our kids up for a future of disability, but we’re just supposed to ignore that.
I’ve spent my kids’ whole lives doing my best to keep them safe and healthy, from feeding them balanced diets to teaching them safety rules…and for what? So I can send them out to get infected with a potentially deadly or life-altering disease?
The cognitive dissonance has broken me. We’ve spent a year avoiding busy stores and potential infection, but why keep it up when they’re taking a bigger risk at lunch every school day? For that matter, what’s even the point of packing healthy lunches any more? I may as well just send them with a whole cake or a bag of cheezies.
I’ve done everything I can to keep my kids safe at school this year. But giving them N95 masks then sending them into a classroom of 30+ unvaccinated kids with masks of variable quality, who all take them off twice a day to eat in a room with questionable ventilation, feels like strapping my kids into seatbelts then driving the wrong way on the highway.
My only other choice is to pull them from school completely and homeschool them, which would likely be a disaster, knowing my stubborn boys. And even then, I’d have to first convince my family it was even necessary, and that the government does not have our best interests in mind…
And so I sit here numb, because anything else is unfathomable. To sit and actively worry about the daily exposures my kids will be facing would leave me catatonic on the couch, unable to do anything at all.
All I can do is sit and wait for the first exposure notice or first sign of a sniffle.