TThere is still a month to go before state schools return to New York, but for many children in other states in the United States, including Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, fall school started last week. Many school districts in those states have put mask commands instead, just like New York: In September, when more than a million children in the city return to school, they will all be wearing masks. Meanwhile, remote schooling options in the city have been canceled for all but immunosuppressed children, and the head of the country’s second-largest teacher union is pushing for mandatory vaccinations for teachers. Despite changes in infection rates, the start of the new school year seems as normal as we can hope for.
The strange thing about this anticipation is that it falls at a time when many of us, once again, are restricting our movements due to Covid. For the first time in months, there are two new cases of Covid in my apartment building; infection rates in the city and throughout the United States as a whole. After what seemed like a period of premature optimism at the beginning of the summer, everyone has returned to wearing full masks in stores and often on the streets. And while before vaccination it was easy to tell yourself that children were less at risk than adults, now it is unvaccinated children who seem the most unprotected. The risks remain very low, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, only between 0.1% and 1.9% of all Covid cases in children in the US result in hospitalization. Still, change things knowing that, as a vaccinated adult, if you decide to travel or go to a party at home, it is your children who may suffer the consequences.
If we are lucky, these calculations exist only at the level of thought experiment. But after 18 months of the pandemic, even that feels emotionally draining. You spend your life as a parent making sure it probably won’t happen; It is not a responsible attitude in these times. For reasons of public safety alone, the only sensible aphorism is “better not take chances,” although at the beginning of the summer, “you have to live your life” he enjoyed a brief moment in the sun. (It seems that, for a while, “it is what it is” has been withdrawn from use, mainly because no one can agree on what “it” is, and if they do, the next minute it changes).
This background noise, the impermanence of all the rules, and the constant sense of low-level threat, plus the suspicion that one might be exaggerating, have all contributed to the feeling that although relative to last summer we are in a lot Better way, these are comparatively more exhausting days. Long Covid describes the consequences of the infection, but it could also represent the psychological wear and tear of triggering a domino thought with each decision that always ends in the same fate. It probably won’t happen, I’m sure we’ll be fine, but if I do this, fly to Chicago; let this person ride the elevator with us; going on an indoor play date and letting the kids remove their masks – Will I end up killing my neighbors?
Many of us are out of adrenaline right now. The line of least resistance is not to make plans, to savor the little pleasure of not having to cancel them. Meanwhile, looking towards the beginning of the trimester is an exercise in yearning for the reassurance of a regular schedule and a reminder, a rare case of increasing children’s exposure to calm the nerves about their likelihood of getting it, which schools have many casualties transmission rates and children do not usually get sick.
A question remains as to when any of us could loosen the defensive posture that we have been assuming, in one form or another, since March 2020. The threshold of the shell of a person burned and confused by the pandemic, dragging us along commando-style . From one day to the next, it is difficult to discern anything that is close to normal energy levels, but I have a feeling that the end of summer can help. I don’t make New Years resolutions, but the meaning of the new school year as a life-changing boundary is one that I have never been able to lose. Roll in September.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism