It was announced last week that eight schools in the Cowichan Valley were going to be reopened, so that essential service workers have a place for their children while they need to be at work.
We’ve seen a lot of criticism from the community about this decision, but it is one that we think is a good one.
If schools were completely reopening we would not be in favour. But this carefully controlled, partial opening is necessary to keep our frontline workers able to go to their jobs every day to take care of us all. It is something we need to do to take care of them.
Eight different schools should be enough that the limited number of children who will be allowed into the buildings will be able to space themselves out more than adequately. Will adults have to make sure that they are not venturing too close to each other, but rather maintaining the required physical distancing? Of course. But this would be true wherever these children would be spending the day. Will there be more than the usual sanitizing required in the spaces the children will occupy? You bet. Is it all likely to work with complete perfection? Probably not. But it is a calculated risk that must be taken.
This week education plans are beginning to be dispersed to students, so children will likely spend at least part of their days at school on school work. If this involves desks, it’s a fairly simple matter to make sure the kids don’t sit right next to one another. During breaks staff will need to make sure the kids can avoid contact. This may mean some more structured activities than a traditional recess or lunch break would normally entail.
It comes down to this: we need our frontline workers.
It is not realistic to suppose that they all have access to childcare for their school-aged children during this pandemic. Those that do will likely choose to keep their children at home. But some are single parents. In some families both parents are essential service workers. They may not have friends or family nearby who are able to look after their children while they’re at work for the uncertain length of time it will take for this pandemic to be over. Especially in these times, it may be very difficult to find someone to pay to look after the children, and some cannot afford it.
It makes sense, when we have big empty buildings, staff, and a need for childcare to put all of these resources together into a solution. It would be foolish not to.