Covid and school: What do parents do?
We sent our daughter to kindergarten today. It was her first day. We were all so excited, the build up to the big day, shopping for the supplies she would need had been a joyous family event.
It was a big deal. She needed the school to make friends and socialize and we needed her there for our sanity. Being cooped up because of Covid and the Phoenix heat were too many times, if even for a moment, turning us into people we didn’t want to be. We all so need this break.
The great morning comes. Our daughter is like every other on this day. A perfect angel dressed in her little outfit with her little backpack and her little lunch. We are so looking forward to the bus rolling up our street. Then it comes and the excitement my wife and I feel for the occasion is tinged with dread. Only our daughter is wearing a mask.
And at the end of the day we find that she and one other student were masked. We don’t want our child to feel different. We want our child to feel that she’s right and knows she’s right. But even if we drum such steely confidence into her, she’s 5. How does she not fear the rest of those in her class and school? Nobody wants that.
We want her to blend in, to feel comfortable with these strangers and feel she belongs. And yet we don’t want her experience at school, her playtime with classmates to erode the trust she has in us — that we know what’s best and we will protect her when all the others don’t see it as we do.
We all know the stats. We know this disease, like most, preys on our most vulnerable, targeting the elderly first, but as the virus continues, it has and will morph and eventually may take aim at our children as the older ones in our society become protected. The disease will need someplace to go. And our kids will be the ones left. And yes, even at that the odds may be slim, but that’s cold comfort when the kid in the hospital is yours. And it better never be ours. Why can’t these other parents see it this way?
Goddammit. How is this going to play out? Just what are we supposed to do?