No, I don’t think I will be sending my kids back to school in January.
Let’s be honest. I personally don’t know of any parent (especially working parents) who enjoyed or felt successful at remote learning. I’m not talking about parents who chose to homeschool their children as a means of regular education and have the time, energy and will to take on this enormous task. I’m talking about being thrown into a poorly supported (by the government) situation where the amount of hours in a day don’t ever feel enough nor do the limitations of our patience.
But let’s also be honest about something else.
I personally can’t envision a situation where sending our children and educators back into the classroom for 7 hours a day, without the resources- both material and human- to make it a safe environment for the students or the staff.
Our provincial government is once again busily dropping the ball and keeping parents and school staff in the dark about what the actual situation is and how they plan to address the challenges before them. In fact, it feels like they have been very blatantly gaslighting us all into believing that everything is just fine, and that they have it all under control. Just be honest for once. Please. It is so painfully obvious that we are making public health decisions based on political outcomes and I am absolutely so fucking sick of it.
I don’t know about you, but being repeatedly and consistently bullshitted by what is probably the worst political leadership in the history of ever in Manitoba feels like a slap in the balls already.
Around the country and around the world, we are seeing staffing crises in multiple sectors. New York City has an emergency workers shortage of 30%. WestJet just announced a reduction in services as they struggle to staff flights. London has reduced tube services as they also face a large number of train conductors and staff off sick.
As usual, the tits in charge of Manitoba have set up a scenario where they will try and tell us that they aren’t seeing transmission in schools, they are safe, blah blah blah. They have instructed those under 40 to not get tested, opening up a door where they don’t have transmission and case data for school aged kids, so how will we know? We still don’t know how and when rapid antigen tests will be used, the schools are scrambling to implement the distribution of them, N95 masks are difficult to find and certainly not handed out in an equitable manner, and the schools have a whole extra TWO FUCKING DAYS to figure it all out.
So what is the government assessing in those two days? Are they figuring out how to help the schools split all the classrooms in two? How to use the limited staff and resources they have to try and distance and manage classrooms using EA’s to supervise as teachers run back and forth from room to room? What about how they will manage the inevitable staffing shortages that will occur as the adults get sick? Are they getting ready to keep the essential workers’ kids in person and organize remote learning packages for others? Or are they going to just pretend that they don’t have to worry about children getting sick anymore despite the alarming increase in severe illness in children in other jurisdictions – or continue to not report the outbreaks currently underway in our Children’s hospital here?
We are 10 days from the start of the winter term. Educators need better communication. Parents need better communication. This province deserves better communication than a Premier who shows up once her tan has faded enough to not be so obvious, a health minister who only shows up to deflect every single question ever asked of her once her nails are fucking dry, and an education minister who seems to feel like his role is purely ceremonial.
Personally, I don’t have any trust left in the system. Our educators are worn out. They are getting sick. Two staff members DIED at the same school this week. Parents are worried. I AM WORRIED.
I don’t actually give a shit if Omicron is mostly less severe. Less severe than what? Than dying? Than needing hospitalization in the acute phase? A lesson in proportionality: a smaller percentage of an exponentially bigger number is still a whole fucking lot. More than Manitoba can handle, and more than is fucking reasonable to risk.
So no. I don’t think I will be sending my kids to school in January. I fucking hate that this is where I am at again, but it is what it is. I actually feel safer sending my kids to extra curricular activities that provide shorter exposure, better ventilation, smaller numbers and business owners who hare able to control some variables in the name of keeping everyone safe and keeping their doors open.
And once again, those of us privileged enough to be able to say “NOPE” will have a better chance of escaping this wave that those that rely on schools to not only educate their kids, but care for them. There is no equity given to those already underserved in terms of resources, care, funding or options. I can’t find all the answers for everyone, and I wish to God I could. All I can do is be part of the solution by trying to keep our little family safe.
And PS, I will participate in “remote learning” as it it provided or not provided on my own terms. I am not killing myself or my relationship with my kids to meet some made up standard of what they need to know about the history of Egypt when they are 9 years old. I don’t give a fuck right now. My priorities will be happiness, survival, coping, health, inquiry based learning and fun. I will try to facilitate work sent home as we can tolerate and that is IT. If that makes me a bad parent then there is a place reserved in my mind for you to go fuck yourself.
I hope this is the last time I have to vent this type of frustration, but I suspect our leaders will continue to suck ass. So until we get new leaders, I’m gonna take matter in my own hands and do the best I can.
Solidarity to all the educators, staff, parents and kiddos out there. I hope you all stay well and we see the actual beginning of the end after this.