Padre’s Corner: Back to school in the age of COVID

St. Brendan’s Chapel at Stadacona.
Photo: CFB Halifax

Back to school in the age of COVID-19

By Padre Lt(N) Graeme Carruth,

So here it is! The first week of school. And for better or worse the kids are back in class. It means parents are a little freer to be at work if they have a place to go to. It means our kids can connect again with the friends and classmates they haven’t seen since March – something we know they’ve been craving for ages.

Of course it’s hardly back to school as usual. There are social distancing directives to observe. People are all masked up. Everything has to be sanitized many times over. Though speaking of sanitizing – our children probably have the cleanest ‘kid-hands’ in the history of the human race! In short, while we’re enjoying a measure of normal, life no doubt still feels weird. Add to that the highly concerned news coverage this return to class has received.  So let me ask you Dr. Phil’s famous question: “How’s it workin’ out for ya?”

Perhaps you are among the fortunate of us who have made your peace with the presence of COVID-19 and don’t feel much bothered by your children braving the uncertainties of school in an age of pandemic. If that’s true, then go you! But if you are like many of the rest of us who feel anxious about the prospect of your child(ren) getting too close and personal with classmates who may not share your level of compliance with today’s Corona practices then you might be struggling to cope. After all, aren’t there enough dangers for our kids without an international disease? Certainly! But ironically that may be the very ticket to gaining a leg-up on our anxiety.

Consider this: as dangerous as COVID-19 is, the likelihood of any one of our children getting it is actually pretty low. In other words, our child(ren) are far less likely to contract COVID-19 than to run afoul of the many other hazards already out there. And let’s face it, ever since we first took our child to kindergarten we have been finding ways to deal with our anxiety for their wellbeing. So maybe we can allow ourselves some confidence that we’ve got this. Just like we have trained our children to watch out for very deadly vehicles and to avoid very deadly drugs and to steer clear of creepy-people situations so we have also trained our children to follow the social practices to protect themselves from COVID-19.

If you are a spiritual person, you have likely encountered the proverb, “Start your children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22 vs 6). We have been training them since they came into our world; surely we can trust that some of it has sunk in.

Admittedly our educators feel a need for more and clearer measures to be in place before things actually begin. But their concern reveals their commitment to making sure our children and themselves will be safe in the classroom environment. And while more work on this needs to be done, we can have confidence that each school will be working hard to minimize any risks.

Our 2020 reality is we do live in a COVID-19 world. It’s not going away so we need to find ways to live well amid its presence. The good news is, we are well-practised at looking after our children and preparing them for the hazards of life. COVID-19, while dangerous, is just the newest factor in our child-training routine of readying them for life.