I am feeling so unsettled that words are not flowing for me. Usually, my blog posts almost write themselves, but not this time. The calendar is slipping away, with a daily march towards the opening of school. Our third school year impacted by COVID is daunting enough, but this time it feels even more disconcerting because of the virulent incivility that is sweeping across the country. We should not have to fight to keep our children safe.
With district after district bowing to the anti-masking protesters who are putting up barriers to the very few mitigation strategies we have, how in the world are we supposed to create any sense of safety? It is unnerving to imagine our schools, bursting at the seams with students not yet eligible for the vaccine, unmasked and not able to physical distance. There has been less than optimal acceptance of vaccines for students age 12 and up.
Escalating tensions resulting in violent interactions is what is most disturbing as documented in the many school board meeting videos that are being shared on social media. School nurses have an impossible task, keeping our students and staff safe if all of the tools that we know work are banned from use. We could never have imagined that universal masking would be disallowed or that students who have had exposure to COVID would be allowed to return to school with no quarantining.
What is going on in America? Why is public health being ignored, discounted, and disregarded? I cannot wrap my head around any logical reason for the backlash towards those of us who are doing everything possible to promote safety. A mask is not a symbol of weakness or a form of control. It is a tool to stop a highly transmissible virus that is finding hosts in unvaccinated people, including children.
Acknowledging my sense of feeling unsettled is a first step in healing the distress. The overarching feeling of not being safe is at the root of being unsettled for me. Given my family history of generational trauma from gun violence, not feeling safe is in my DNA. As a result, I have come to understand that I am hyper-focused on the presence or absence of safety.
The pandemic has challenged all of us in extreme ways, especially the persistence of unrelenting stress. We are still riding the roller coaster of COVID and its many variants, now complicated by Delta. I was hoping that we would find common ground in our dedication to children’s health and safety. My positivity is waning, adding to the feeling of being unsettled. I am hoping this blog post opens conversations and maybe some solutions…