School Nursing

The Relentless School Nurse: ‘In the Time of the Pandemic’ – Kitty O’Meara

Spring break is in full gear for me. It looks and feels like any typical day in the middle of a pandemic. But, there is a change in the air, life is beginning to open up. Thanks to science and being fully vaccinated, I was able to visit with dear friends (also fully vaccinated) without masks. We even gave each other brief hugs, what a great feeling! These small moments are huge wins for what is to come, opening back up.

When I think about where we were one year ago, it is hard to wrap my head around the blur of living through COVID. It feels like we are moving out of the longest, darkest winter in memory. The sunshine now feels brighter, more vibrant, and a reminder that hope does spring eternal. 

I write this while acknowledging the pain, suffering, and loss that COVID has inflicted. I read that for every death, over 555,000 to date, nine people are impacted. There are now more than 40,000 children left with one parent dead from COVID. This astronomical number is according to a recent CNN article. The article further explains that “Black children are disproportionately affected, comprising only 14% of children in the US but 20% of those losing a parent to Covid-19.” Global deaths are now more than 2,876,102. 

What does opening back up mean? It is hard to look too far down the road. But for now, opening up means more people are becoming fully vaccinated. The numbers grow by the millions every day. We are inching towards the goal of herd immunity. Recognizing that our children are not yet part of the equation, but the availability of children and teen vaccines seems more possible.

How will the fall of 2021 look different than the fall of 2020? This is one big question, and there are many more. Will schools still be on a hybrid schedule? Will there be remote learning options? Will weekly testing be the norm for students and staff? What leadership role will school nurses play in promoting vaccine confidence for students? 

It is refreshing to think about opening versus closing. It feels more hopeful to plan for future gatherings than count how many holidays, birthdays, and traditions have been impacted by COVID. For the first time in many months, it feels possible to think about the world opening again. 

I found this poem written by Kitty O’Meara that perfectly encapsulates what it has meant to live ‘In the time of the pandemic.’:

‘And the People Stayed Home’ (Also known as ‘In the Time of the Pandemic’)

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed. — Kitty O’Meara.


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