mom adjusting son's mask


I’m A Mom In Ontario And I Feel Uneasy About Kids Starting School In These Strange Times

Aug 17, 2020

With September on the horizon, I (as I'm sure are other parents) am concerned about what my son’s first year of school will be like. It’s hard not to be anxious wondering if I am doing the right thing sending my child to school in the fall.

"There is no trial run or walkthrough for kids returning to school in September."

Living in Ontario, I feel so much unease about kids having to wear masks all day, on and off remote learning and maintaining physical distance in classrooms. With the plan for the school year changing every day, it seems like it'll be up to parents and teachers to put in the extra work and make sure our kids are safe.

What is happening is not normal — I know there are no perfect solutions at this moment and we are all having to hope for the best. But I believe we are basing our decisions on what’s best for our economy, not for our children. That the plans put forward have been proposed so that parents can get back to work. 

If you have some old T-shirts, find out how you can turn them into no-sew masks for your kids here.

I wonder how comfortable kids feel returning to school? When I ask my nieces and nephews their thoughts on going back to school, they are obviously so excited to see their friends, but they think it’s going to be hard to wear a mask all day and they're not looking forward to remote learning. They're right, getting kids to wear masks for a full day of school will not be an easy task. Especially when adults still complain about wearing them and don’t always follow the laws in indoor spaces. Teachers are going to have to be the ones reminding students of the importance of masking. I worry about the safety and sanity of these teachers, burdened with extra health and safety protocols on top of their normal teaching duties.

"I worry about the safety and sanity of these teachers, burdened with extra health and safety protocols on top of their normal teaching duties."

The amount of pressure added to parents with children who are not part of synchronous learning programs is immense, now tasked with assisting with pre-recorded lessons from teachers, logging onto the correct sites and finishing and submitting work for their online curriculum. It will be up to the parent who makes less money to be with their kids, and in most households that means the responsibility will fall on the mom.

There is no trial run or walkthrough for kids returning to school in September. There are no daily health questionnaires, temperature checks or blood oxygen level check, like I get when I go to work. Just self-screening, trusting parents aren’t sending their kids to school if they are feeling unwell. The Ontario government is leaving it up to each school to be innovative, making spaces feel safe by utilizing outdoor areas, cafeterias and gymnasiums. My son's school plans to move classrooms outside giving each child a hula hoop in order to create distance.

There are still so many questions with so many variables. How will ventilation be dealt with? How can schools make sure that class sizes are capped? Who will take care of sick kids when parents are at work? How do drop-offs or pickups work effectively so that parents aren’t all at school at the same time? What will the contingency plan be if there is an outbreak?

Try this sign craft with your kids if conversations on race don't come naturally — plus print off the accompanying colouring sheets for an afternoon activity.

As a parent, I have to make the tough decision about whether to send my kid to school or not. I'm lucky I have more choice than most — my son is just starting JK so it’s not mandatory he attends. But for single parents, low-income households or kids with special needs, the options are narrow. Parents will be stuck wondering if sending our kids to school was the right decision. Not to mention wondering how to survive not having the same income if we need to stay home or how to handle the stress of a kid who will be in more contact with people than they ever were in the last six months.

I want to make the right choice when it comes to the future of my child, I know we all do, but my anxiety and stress levels are rising. I don’t want it to feel like failing, when we're all just doing our best.

Children need to be protected because they're the most vulnerable part of our society — they're also our future. I know kids are adaptable and often more resilient than we are, but it’s so hard for me not to feel uneasy starting school in these strange times.

Article Author Vanessa Magic
Vanessa Magic

Vanessa Magic is a writer, award-winning costume designer and musician. She loves making up magical stories and singing songs to her adorable four-year-old son. When she is not in mama mode, she facilitates workshops with Inclusive Stylist Toronto, an initiative she co-founded that encourages inclusivity within the film industry for costume design and wardrobe styling. Currently, she is a participant in the BIPOC Film and TV Kids writing workshop where she is developing an afro-futurist science-based show.

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