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Our Entire Family Was In Quarantine By The Second Day of School

Oct 22, 2020

I practically skipped my kids to school this year on a warm fall day in early September. After having our kids home for the longest March Break ever (six months, to be exact), I felt ready to return back to a sense of normalcy. The air felt different, but I could still sense hopefulness and a resolve to return to the familiar school routine. Parents, teachers and students all milled around in our face masks, attempting social distancing while packing a large group of kids into a too-small space. Even so, most of us felt ready.

By the second day of school my up-beat attitude had shifted to despair and shame. My oldest child woke up with a high fever, a dry cough and a sore throat. What had I done, I wondered? I immediately called the school and asked them what I should do with my kids who were seemingly healthy. They were unsure as well, since public health guidelines at that point were unclear.

The next day the healthy kids were feverish, so we trekked to wait in an hours-long line-up with other families and young children at a nearby COVID-19 assessment centre. We came straight home and quarantined for the next six days, nervously waiting for our results.


This father proposes school this year should have an emphasis on outdoor learning. Read his plan here.


When the results finally returned negative we all heaved a huge sigh of relief, but my hopeful attitude didn’t return. I sent my kids back to school, but this time I wasn’t so sure I was doing the right thing. As the second wave hit head-on, and nearby schools started reporting COVID-19 cases and class closures, I fell into a pit of worry and anxiousness.

A week later one of my kids became ill again, but this time public health had clarified the guidelines and I was able to send my healthy kids to school. We didn’t get a COVID-19 test, and waited things out with less nerves and more patience.

"Most days I wonder to myself if I’m doing the right thing."

The kids have now been back to school for just over a month, and my eldest child woke up today with the sniffles and a sore throat. A year ago I would have sent her in, but after hearing that four kids were sent home sick in her class yesterday, and knowing she failed the COVID-19 school screening test, we decided to keep her home. Living with COVID-19 in the schools, while dealing with cold and flu season has become our new norm, and it didn’t take long.

I’m still nervous about sending my kids to school every day in the middle of the pandemic. But I know that I need to pay the bills, and my kids also need to receive an education and the social stimulation that in-class learning provides.


"I feel left behind" — read how 7,674 Canadians felt about this year's back to school season here.


Most days I wonder to myself if I’m doing the right thing. So far, no cases of COVID-19 have been reported at my kids’ school. But I know that it’s just a matter of time before I get the call that the pandemic has reached the walls where my kids learn six hours every day — and that fact terrifies me.

Article Author Brianna Bell
Brianna Bell

Brianna Bell is a writer and journalist based in Guelph, Ontario. She has written for many online and print publications, including Scary Mommy, The Penny Hoarder, and The Globe and Mail.

Brianna's budget-savvy ways have attracted media attention and led to newspaper coverage in The Globe and Mail and The Guelph Mercury.

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