Sending kids back to school is most certainly uncomfortable. (Citizen file)

Sarah Simpson Column: Coronavirus and school feels like a no-win situation

I began writing this column — not this specific one but you know what I mean — because I was tired of reading bad news all the time. Good news was never the intent. It was actually suggested I write a political column but I really didn’t want to write about the local political scene. I’d just returned from maternity leave for the second time and my entire perspective on life had changed. My priorities had changed. Besides, all the players in local politics had changed. I didn’t know as much as I once did and a great many of my best connections and sources were gone.

Besides, nobody cares about my opinion on that topic and I knew it would most certainly yield a ton of emails and letters with negative feedback that I didn’t really want to read.

I made a decision. If I was being mandated to write a column, I’d prefer to write about what I want. I think it’s worked out pretty well.

So here we are, 161 columns later, with what I’d like to think is at least a mildly funny, good-news column that might make you crack a smile every now and then.

I do still wonder who reads this. I mean I don’t dwell on it too much, but I do wonder. Based on the emails I get, it’s older people who’ve had their children and perhaps now even have grandchildren, and are enjoying reading about the challenges, perils, and joys of raising children in today’s world.

But I can’t help but think there are also readers who are parents that are actively in the parenting trenches, like I am. (I figure they don’t have time to brush their hair let alone email me with their feedback but I do like to believe they read this sometimes).

I wonder how those parents are doing today. Are they as anxious as I am about the state of the world? Are they as numb as I am about the back-to-school saga? As confused? As deflated about it?

It felt really strange picking up my son’s school supplies the other day. It came without the excitement that I remember back-to-school feeling like. Perhaps it’s because he’s an anxious kid by nature and isn’t really keen to leave the comfort of home to physically go to school even though he loves the whole learning and doing stuff part of it. He’s going into Grade 1 so I imagine school is still pretty fun for him.

That doesn’t even have anything to do with the whole worldwide pandemic thing, which from what I understand is on the uptick yet again. COVID-19 takes life to a whole different level of anxiety and whether or not we believe it, the kids pick up on it.

My son had a bit of a 24-hour bug a while back and he was quietly convinced the entire time he was sick that he had “The Virus”. I only found out he’d been worried about it as I was putting him to bed. How heartbreaking. He’s six.

As I write this, we still haven’t received any type of definitive plan for going back to school, although one has been promised shortly. But by the time you read this, we’ll know. Will we be comforted by the plans or will we become even more concerned? Regardless, I can’t help but think that it’s all going to change as we get further into autumn anyway.

I feel for parents. There’s no right answer. For a kid like mine, going to school is really important for his social development. I could care less about the academics. He’s bright. He’ll learn what he needs to know eventually. But do I risk bringing COVID-19 into our house for the social development school provides? I know on the Island we are relatively safe but the numbers are growing again. I’m not in panic mode but I do want to be responsible and not contribute to any spread.

These days everything seems hard.

If you’re a parent struggling with this decision, know that you’re not alone. Know that no matter what you ultimately decide about school, you are doing what’s best for you and your family and at the end of the day, that’s all you can really do.

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