I switched to homeschooling my kids during the pandemic, and it went as well as it could have considering the circumstances. That allowed us to continue to keep their grandparents in a bubble with us before vaccinations were available. And it avoided remote learning, which my children (and I) had zero patience for.
When this school year came around, we had to decide what to do all over again. We have a 7-year-old and an 11-year-old. Eleven is so close and yet so far from qualifying for a vaccine.
Like all other parents, we had to weigh that risk between how likely it was they’d get sick and, if so, how sick they would get against the mental toll it was taking on them to never be around other children. Even though there are more cases now and Delta variant spreads easier, we felt we couldn’t keep them away any longer. They needed the social interaction so desperately.
Since we live in an area that requires masks at school, we decided to enroll them. I am aware that six feet apart is impossible in a classroom or a school bus, but staff are doing the best they can as far as I can tell. We hoped for the best.
Alas, here we are 3 weeks into the school year and my 6th grader is coughing. We had a nice long run of no one in our home being sick for 18 months. It’s over now.
We felt pretty confident that it wasn’t Covid-19, and that it was just a cold. The problem is regular cold symptoms and mild Covid symptoms are exactly the same. In normal times, I’d have kept him home for 24 hours after a fever, even a mild one, so either way he’d have stayed home that first day.
But what were we supposed to do about the following days? It seems like the right thing to do would be to get him Covid tested before sending him back to be sure. If it was the plague and not a cold after all, he could still be contagious. It’s what I’d want other parents to do.
I went to 3 stores, and none of them had at-home tests, and they didn’t know when more would arrive. Honestly, how are the aisles not overflowing with at-home tests at this point? So we tried to schedule him a drive-thru test. Nowhere in the county had rapid tests available, and we had to wait a day to even get a regular test. Then it was another 2 days to get results.
It was negative. Whew.
We wound up keeping him out a full 5 days. Pre-pandemic, I confess I would have sent him back into the classroom with a slight cough because a cough can drag on forever even after a fever is gone and a child is feeling well. Now it feels like no sniffles and no coughs should be allowed.
But are they supposed to miss a full week of school every time they catch a cold? What’s the right thing to do? Kids catch colds all the time. Although, I still can’t figure out how he managed to catch one in spite of always being masked indoors and frequent use of hand sanitizer. And how did he casually catch it in passing somewhere and not pass it to the rest of us at home as he coughs all over us?
I am so ready for my kids to be vaccinated. We will definitely be first in line. I’m so ready for everyone to be vaccinated actually. If everyone eligible to be vaccinated was vaccinated, we’d all be in a different situation. All the risks would be lower.
I want my kids to have playdates again. I don’t want to have to get this deep into people’s medical histories and social habits to find out if they’re safe for my kids to hang out with. I don’t want to have to explain that it’s not actually a bubble if you’re in a neighborhood bubble, a soccer bubble, and a church bubble. That’s just living your regular life…
I’ve gotten to the point where if someone mentions that they’re unvaccinated, it tells me everything I need to know about them. You don’t have enough information yet? God will protect you, and if it’s your time it’s your time? It only affects old people, and you’re strong? Medical freedom? Eyeroll. I know it’s a legitimate medical concern for some people, but that isn’t the category most people fall into. If you can be vaccinated and aren’t at this point, I’m definitely judging you.
“You do you” doesn’t work in this situation. This thing will last forever if we don’t all work together. Vaccines can’t protect the vulnerable if we don’t all participate.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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