I have neglected to write the “COVID” post for months because I wasn’t on the frontlines in the classroom. I work from home, so most days, I am safe in the cocoon of my home office. I am not day in and day out instituting Covid protocols. I am not telling kids to “wash their hands” or “pull up their masks.” I do not have to navigate virtual learning because Omicron has spread so rapidly. I also did not want to wade into the politics in this blog, but I think it’s time to. I think it’s time we find that happy medium that we have been missing. Let me lay out what I mean.
Before I get started, though, let’s get one thing very clear. I genuinely believe you need to protect yourself and your family in the way you see fit. If you live with someone immunocompromised, elderly, or more susceptible, this post doesn’t apply to you. You need to do everything possible to make sure those folks are okay physically and mentally. Who cares what everyone else says, and protecting your loved ones is paramount.
This post applies to everyone else. I think I have come to a place where there is a happy medium we will have to live with, and we need to start moving that way. COVID isn’t going anywhere. It’s here to stay, and we have to find that line we can live with it which means don’t be too far to either side.
Let’s start with what seems like the simplest way to protect ourselves, and it’s the vaccine. I know that taking the vaccine is a personal choice, but I know for my family and me, all the data points to it being effective (no vaccine is 100%) and safe. Data from multiple hospitals proves that it limits the likely hood you can become infected, and if you do, it dramatically limits the symptoms. I would think most teachers would believe this data (it’s in our nature to believe science), but I know some don’t. I also think most teachers are looking for any way to protect themselves because they know things spread easily in schools and don’t want students bringing it home to people who are more likely to have severe complications. If you are one of those that don’t believe in the vaccine, I have to ask you for a straightforward thing.
Make that choice personal, not verbal. It pushes you more to that happy medium because you aren’t trying others to make a choice that they could possibly regret. How we vaccinate and who we vaccinate can be that personal choice, but we don’t have to hate others who believe something different. As someone who is vaccinated, I also think we need to stop pressure campaigns. We are to a point where those that aren’t are dug in, and constant peer pressure won’t help. It still needs to be that personal choice.
With everything else, I think the key is that happy medium. Both us as individuals and schools need to be smart but not strict. For example, kids who can go to school can go without masks, especially in schools with students of vaccination age. It doesn’t mean, though, that people need to stand right next to each other in a closed space or sit right next to another student at lunch (1 seat away won’t hurt someone). We should be able to go into a store without a mask and stay away from folks. However, we likely need to wear a mask on a plane where we are in a closed tube for a long time, sitting right next to a stranger. It really can be a smarter, not harder, approach.
To bring it home, I think I actually live in a fascinating area with the politics related to schools and the coronavirus. Parents, teachers, and schools do not just use a hands-off approach to COVID, but they are also aren’t going to go off the deep end and have virtual learning for months on in. You can see inadequate approaches. A great example was at my son’s school when they sent him home from a close contact. When he returned, they asked him to wear a mask, but they sat him right next to another student at lunch. To me, that’s the place where things can pass the easiest, so they could have put some space there. They did it all last year successfully (my kids were back in October of 2020), but why could they not do it now? I have also seen the good through my youngest daughter’s school. They ask for masks, but only when the kids are right next to each other. Seems pretty sensible to me.
Throughout all of this, we just need to go with a level of understanding and kindness. People have different opinions and want to see other things in their community, yet there is such a level of hatred for people that believe different things permeate this country that the extremes come out. If we all would just remember that happy medium is what matters, we would be much better off. We could live our lives while also not doing things like overwhelming our schools, teachers, and even health care facilities. We need to do better, and it all starts with respecting each other.