The first week back to school has been so very different for us this year. I am surprisingly enjoying myself more than I thought I would. You see, apparently having cancer in the middle of a pandemic makes it hard for your kids to go to school… who would’ve thought right?
Ultimately the recommendations of my care team made our decision for us, however, even if I didn’t have to be going through what I am currently, we would likely still have come to the same conclusion. Having extended family members also immunocompromised impacts our decisions even during the ‘regular’ cold and flu season. We spend a lot of time with our families and want to be able to see them throughout the year.
No matter what decision someone else has made in regards to school and where they sit from a risk level, I still support you. I believe in freedom of choice. However, I also believe in our social contract. This essentially boils down to the fact that we don’t live in a vacuum. What I do in my day to day life may impact others in small or big ways depending on what happens. Motor vehicle accident? Pretty big impact for example.
I wanted to take a minute and go through how my perspective puts this social contract into function as it relates to the current return to school scenario that we have been entrenched in this week, since I have already talked about the rules and reopening before.
Regardless of what others have done, we have been practicing wearing masks for a long time including putting them on and taking them off in our family including my kids. We’ve told the kids about Covid (great cartoons and books created by OTs right at the beginning of the pandemic and we did science experiments around germs and washing hands with soap/water which was super fun). I have also emphasized to our kids that although this is what is best for our family, not everyone will be making the same decisions we will be. This is a really challenging concept for many, never mind being 3 and 6.
I think kids should get more credit than they do – they are so resilient when we let them be. I have confidence that if we were able to go to school that my kiddos would be fine in a mask. I even followed an informational video on breathing in the mask at the start by a cardiopulmonary physiotherapist who teaches breathing specifically with mask use (she has actually been doing this long before Covid), because having extra information on how to help the kids should they have difficulty was important to me. They haven’t once complained about not being able to breathe or having difficulty breathing in their mask.
New information about Covid comes out the longer it’s around, but one thing I try to remember is that it hasn’t been a ‘thing’ for even a year yet. We still absolutely don’t know the long term repercussions of Covid for those that had mild/moderate/severe cases and recovered – it could literally be crippling to our healthcare system (I say this not as a fear tactic but from a logistics/mathematics perspective – we can not afford for 30% of our regularly healthy population to develop chronic health conditions from Covid). To focus simply on the mortality rate I think is a major flaw.
The discussion regarding rights and freedoms I find intriguing just as I find reading about previous mandate and recommendation ‘push back’ narratives interesting – car seats, seat belts, shoes on in public places of business… it’s an interesting discussion to have and often boils down to each persons perception of the given situation and their specific rights. My perspective having lived with a family member being immunocompromised for the past decade will always impact my perception. Knowing someone who has struggled with lingering effects of COVID or who has succumbed to the virus will also change your lens on the situation.
However we function in a society that is built on community and a mutual understanding that we are all in this together. Thus it is my belief that those that are agreeing to the social contract (aka participating in society) should follow measures to protect the most vulnerable. Our societal pendulum is reaching the end of the swing into individualistic tendencies and will eventually come back to a community focus. I have a sneaking suspicion that we aren’t there yet. Which is fine. My 2020 has been a literal show. Ultimately we understand that not everyone will have the same perspective on the same information. So we’ve opted to not open our family up to other families that are not choosing the same precautionary levels we are, because I know not everyone thinks like me.
If this pandemic teaches us only one thing, I hope it teaches resiliency. For me resiliency is the ability to adapt and change with whatever life has to throw at you. This past year for us has been a test of our resiliency, flexibility and quick pivot mind-set. If we can couple this with some compassion and empathy for those around us I don’t think this time will be wasted at all. Regardless what your position is on the virus, if we can all be resilient, compassionate and empathetic to one another, everything will turn out in the end.
People often gravitate towards those that think like them because it’s easy, less controversial. I know everyone is making the right choice for them. My final thought is this: when we all agree to live in a community together consideration for others must also be a factor.