The Worst Day

by Charity

“Tomorrow is going to be the worst day of my life,” Carter exclaimed as he climbed into the car after school.

“Oh no!  Why?” I lovingly asked, while masking my immediate gut-wrenching worry.

“Because we have to go virtual,’’ he replied through his brightly colored American flag mask, completely defeated.

And there it was.

The words I’d been dreading since school started all of 3 weeks ago.
The word “virtual” alone gives me PTSD.

No, it’s is not going to be the worst day of his life.
No, it’s not the end of the world.
Yes, it’s super dramatic.
Yes, it’s the time we are living in.
Yes, it’s a first-world problem.
But yes, I also accepted his anger, sadness, disappointment, and frustration that was oozing all over that statement.

He was out several days last week because of a cold. (There was a negative COVID test to confirm. Turns out you can still get sick and not have COVID.)

He went back one whole day before he found out his entire grade was going virtual because of an outbreak. Email and texts started to emerge before I even got home and my heart broke a little more with each alert on my phone. Outbreaks were happening in nearly every grade level.

So what’s going on?
Why are we dealing with this again?
2020 is over, right?
There was not a single positive case until the second to last week of school last year.

That begs the question, why?

Why are we less than a month into this school year with outbreaks in nearly every grade and a complete school shut-down looming?

Is it the high transmission rate of the delta variant? Maybe.
But I cannot believe that’s the only variable in the equation.
So what else is different about this year?
Vaccinations? Again, maybe. But my kids are in elementary school. They aren’t vaccinated, but all the teachers are. So that should make things better, right?

So what is it?

I have to believe masks are an integral part of this equation.

If you don’t want to be vaccinated, that is your choice. I am fully vaccinated and I believe in it. I don’t know the original source of this to give proper credit, but it really spoke to me so I thought I would share it. I remember being a little girl and staring at my mom’s arm and asking questions about it. What it was and how she got that scar. I remember asking her if I had to get one, and she would answer, “No, because we don’t have to worry about that anymore.” Don’t we owe that same conversation to the next generation?

That being said, I would never ask you to do something to your body that you are not comfortable with. Like I tell my kids, your body, your decision. I know people who are vaccinated. I know people who are not. I know vaccinated people who contracted COVID. I know unvaccinated people who contracted COVID. I know people who have died. I know people who barely had a sore throat. This thing doesn’t discriminate. There’s no one perfect answer for eradicating it. It’s ultimately going to be a culmination of many different things- including masks.

But I also know that because you choose certain things for yourself, it doesn’t mean that you don’t want to see an end to this global pandemic, right?

So what can your role be?
Wear a mask.

Yes, there are exceptions, but most people cannot convince me that wearing a mask is damaging your body or forcing something horrible on you.

Why did we think we could go back to school this year like nothing ever happened?
Why did we get rid of masks, cohorts, alternating times, etc?

Do I love wearing a mask?
Of course not.

Will I continue to wear one?

My daughter has a speech delay. She was granted access to the Child Find Program with services one hour before the entire world shut down.

Do I wish she could see peoples’ mouths as she learns how to speak properly? Yes.
Do I wish her speech therapists could see the way she’s forming her sounds? Yes.
Do I wish her progress was better? Yes
Would it be better if no one was wearing a mask? Yes.
Am I going to fight in favor of no masks? Nope.

It’s something so simple that can make such a huge difference.

Do you start a war over someone asking you to wash your hands for 20 seconds to simply wash away germs? Are you going to spend your time starting a debate on why scientist say to wash your hands? I surely hope not. We’ve accepted the science behind it and we expect everyone, like restaurant workers handling our food, to follow these guidelines. No one questions it. It’s been proven to work in eliminating germs and illnesses big and small. Likewise, masks have been proven to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets and large particles, including COVID-19.

And I will fight in favor of them until I’m blue in the face.

If I keep one person from dying, that’s good enough for me.
If it means my kids get to go to school in person, that’s good enough for me.
If it means I can slow the transmission rate of this thing, that’s good enough for me.

If you have personally spent billions of dollars with the nation’s top scientists to disprove the efficacy of masks, I am totally open to hearing your findings. 

Until then.
Wear a mask.

It’s not a political issue.
It’s a “we-are-in-a-global-pandemic-and-this-is-an-easy-way-to-help-end-it” issue.
It’s life-saving.
It’s simple.

Masks were not mandated at our school until 2 days ago.
And now we are paying for it. And we have to reset and start over before those fresh school supplies were even opened.

My kids chose to wear a mask every day even when it was optional. Don’t get me wrong. They by no means wanted to. But they did. I was sent a picture of my daughter’s class and she was one of 3 people wearing a mask, and it made me sad. Kids who were not wearing masks would chase her and try to breathe on her to make her sick. No one deserves that. She is doing her small part in this pandemic and trying to keep other people safe and is basically being bullied for it. She’s being told by other kids that masks are stupid and she doesn’t need to wear one because they don’t work. I struggle to believe that’s truly a 4th grader’s personal opinion and not something they’ve just heard someone say.

Remember when masks were first put into place and social media blew up with pictures of people wearing masks, tutorials about how to make your own and tips for correctly and comfortable wearing them? Remember when you would walk into a store and the feeling you had when someone wasn’t wearing a mask because 99% of the people were? When did things shift so far in the other direction? Is it because of the vaccines? Is it because more precautionary protocols are in place? Is it because we are less scared of this scary thing? Is it because people are tired of wearing masks?

Just because we are over the pandemic doesn’t mean it’s over.

It’s going to take everyone doing a small part to knock this thing down for good.

Pick something you can do to help and do it.

Vaccines, masks, social distancing, hand washing, cancelling a gathering, choosing not to go somewhere that you know will be crowded. I beg you.

This is more than just wanting my kids to go to school in the flesh.

It’s about ending a global pandemic.

One of my very good friends has a masters degree in molecular biology. She is more science-minded than anyone I know. She did her thesis on respiratory viruses and was living in this world decades before COVID became a household term. (Fun fact: Did you know that the Coronavirus vaccine research started in 2002?) She said something the other day that really stuck with me and I want to share it with you because I think it’s powerful.

“If we can’t agree on the reality we’re living in, it makes accomplishing greatness in any area impossible.”

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