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Wendy reflects on plight of parents with back-to-school plan in place

So much for a carefree summer; In this week's "Everything King," Wendy fears the start of school

I don’t have any children. However, I was one.

I babysat a lot of them. I have observed many. I have spent time with dozens.

And I am worried about all of them.

Last week, Ontario came out with its strategy for getting young people back to school in the fall.

I cannot imagine the angst of parents trying to figure out what is the best thing to do.

Back in the day, all we had to worry about if we didn’t show up to class was the scary and legendary truant officer, who we were told would cart us off the jail. Oh, and our angry parents.

Now, if you make the wrong decision on this issue, it could be life and death.

That must be weighing on so many people’s minds as we head into the last full month before school is set to begin.

In reading the guidelines put out by the Ontario government, it suggests there will be some parental choices: 

  1. There could be a normal school day routine with enhanced public health protocols.
  2. There could be a modified school day routine with no more than 15 students per class keeping those pupils together with one teacher for most of the school day. It would require alternate day or alternate week arrangements.
  3. There could be at-home learning. School boards will have to be prepared to offer remote education.

It is not for me to question these guidelines. It certainly seems to be a no-win situation. Can you imagine all the moving parts from staggered start times, recess, busing, alternate days and weeks? Can you just see mom’s dry erase board by the fridge for those schedules?

Everyone is truly juggling a child’s mental and physical health with the need to keep them learning, growing and socializing.

As for masks, the document from the Ministry of Education says younger elementary school students should not have to wear them indoors, whereas high school students should wear them.

Just a hunch here, but I think younger children would be more likely and willing to wear the masks than the older age group. 

If masks prevent spread of COVID-19, shouldn’t everyone be wearing them?

I understand really small kids won’t understand about masks and not to touch their face and not to social distance, but shouldn’t we try with an all encompassing recommendation?

Again, it makes sense that education simply must continue for all the obvious reasons. 

Parents are said to be getting choices, but are they really?

If mom and dad work outside the home, what’s the choice?

Think about teachers. Their jobs just got impossible. 

Imagine trying to figure out how to deliver the goods in uncharted territory. I can just guess how many internal memos and updates and changes and corrections are flying through cyberspace.

Forget the actual class instruction and add in sanitizing constantly. How about the added duties as counsellor, safety officer, referee and therapist, all the while worried about your own health and safety and that of your family?

Here we are in August. How many adjustments will there be before September? 

Truly, it makes me shudder!

Children, parents, teachers, administrators, grandparents and the general public are all nervous!

When the lockdown started, I kept thinking we’d be in a different place by the fall. I was being optimistic. We are in a different place, but it's not better. 

The cases continue. 

The questions linger. 

We are now both scared and tired, but also cranky and fed up.

I saw a meme on Facebook that spoke volumes: “So, adults can’t be counted on to wear masks and social distance, but we expect kindergartners to just figure it all out.”


About the Author: Wendy King

Wendy King writes about all kinds of things from nutrition to the job search from cats to clowns — anything and everything — from the ridiculous to the sublime. Watch for Wendy's column weekly.
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