Disability | Education | Opinion

Learning Curves

This year, school sits at the complex intersection of trust and fear

“Mom, do we have any clean masks? Soph and I are headed out.” 

The times they are a-changin’. We are now required to wear a mask to go to the bank, and a grocery store’s recent radio ad boasts a delivery service that features food picked from a warehouse and packed by robots.

School daze vs. covid craze

I’m writing this a few weeks away from September, and I can’t recall a month that has been more anticipated, feared and discussed. Many of us who are involved with education or have children typically enrolled in a mainstream classroom would agree September 2020 holds tremendous uncertainty. What used to feel like the fresh start of a new year is now part of this covid blur, a time where it’s easy to lose track of the days and weeks. 

Truthfully, the summer of 2020 doesn’t exactly feel like popsicles-and-lawn-sprinklers. Life changed for so many of us on March 17; it’s as if we are still in the second half of a long March Break. In fact, beginning in mid-March, over 80 percent of children worldwide remained home, and 188 countries chose to close schools as a way to limit infection.

With both my husband and I involved in educational leadership and our four girls enrolled in four different school systems, imagining school in a pandemic has been foremost of mind these last few months. Our oldest is entering her second year at Humber College, and she will be studying online from our basement. Our second is enrolled in the local public school system, and we’ve yet to learn more about what days she’ll attend and for how many hours. Needless to say, neither are excited about the forecasted plans.

Do we or don’t we?

In conversation with families of children who are disabled, medically complex or dealing with significant needs, I sense incredible anxiety with deciding about school. From my perspective, it would seem the decision regarding school truly sits at the very personal and complex intersection of trust and fear. 

At this point, we are going to send Rachel and Janneke to their respective schools. Though I can’t believe she’s so grown up, Rachel is starting secondary school at the local Catholic high school. Janneke is entering Grade 6 at Beacon Christian, and her dad has been busy all summer as Beacon’s principal, getting her school ready. More than ever, we will take each day as it comes. 

The blessing of routine

It’s late at night as I type these words. The larger night feeds (12 hours) have been set up in the feed pumps, and the girls have been prepped for bed. Medications will be administered soon, and the next check-in will be four hours later. So much of what I do for the girls is timed or scheduled. I love routine.

Hence, I am keenly aware and fight off the anxiety of how much is not predictable when I look ahead. My mind has a hard time “shutting off” at night, and sleep is more elusive than ever. 

Begin again

Though I feel as if I am often slogging through the days, I am trying to remember that time, though it may be changing, is a gift. I am also reminded of how much living in this world means leaning into our Creator God and letting go of what we so desperately desire to control. 

So we’ve ordered some fun masks and have stocked up on toilet paper and yeast. We yearn to live carefully – and not fearfully. Time to begin again. 

  • Sara Pot is a new columnist with CC. She lives in St. Catharines, Ont. with her husband, four daughters and their golden doodle; she welcomes conversation and feedback!

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