Corona Virus Quarantine Day #236: Rona Fatigue: November 13, 2020:
I’ve been avoiding this topic lately because I’m tired of it. I know everyone is. But in light of the recent Covid news, I need to update for history’s sake. So, the latest on corona virus in Johnson County is that our cases are climbing. Cases have almost doubled in the past weeks. As a result, the Johnson County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting today to discuss the corona virus. Among the many things discussed the mask mandate that was supposed to expire this Sunday, November 15, 2020, will be extended.
The current 14-day average of cases in Jo Co is at it’s highest point ever during the pandemic. The Johnson County Department of Health reported the first week of November that there were 1,251 new cases, a 75% increase from the week before. Yikes. Sadly, those numbers continue to climb. The data shows that these transmissions aren’t linked to schools being open (read those words again), but instead, to activity within the community. In addition to these alarming statistics the state has averaged 38 new Covid related hospitalizations per week as well as 18 new Covid related deaths each week.
It’s also been reported, that there is a large increase in cases in people between the years of 20-60, a demographic that seems to be gathering in large groups or crowded places.
The bottom line here…the cases are rising and we have to believe that this has to do with corona virus fatigue. People are over it. They don’t want to be stifled by the mask anymore. They don’t want to avoid gathering with friends and family, so they aren’t. Many people have kicked the social distance and the masks to the curb and as a result we are back in the red zone and schools are talking about once again closing.
For example, Blue Valley, the largest school district in Jo Co announced today that their learners will go all online until after the 1st of the new year. Eudora high school has shut down through Thanksgiving and no activities will take place. That means that the young men and women who hoped to tryout for basketball or wrestling, swimming, bowling…will not get that chance…yet (hopefully). Schools in Topeka have done the same. Shawnee County, which is home to the state capital of Topeka has set other limitations, including only 10 people can gather at a time and restaurants that can hold more than 100 people can only operate at 50% capacity. Bars must close by 11pm as well. In neighboring Douglas County (Lawrence) gatherings are limited to 15 from the previous 45.
The fear is that after Thanksgiving there will be an even bigger surge of corona virus cases because so many people will gather in large groups. College campuses, like Mizzou are telling kids to go home for Thanksgiving and not to come back for the rest of the semester.
The issue we are facing in schools isn’t that districts don’t want to be there, because they do, instead they are struggling to cover classes when teachers or administrators come down with the virus or have to quarantine because of a close contact. Also, many substitute teachers state wide are retired teachers. That means they are older and many may have preexisting conditions. This does not make them eager to come into the schools during a pandemic, and really, who could blame them.
The Governor, Laura Kelly, has issued an order requiring people statewide to wear masks in public. However, state law allows counties to opt out and most still have. There are currently fewer than 30 counties (out of 105) that have a mask mandate.
However, I would love to speak to this briefly about my experience with masks as a teacher and coach. I’m grateful that at St. James we are doing everything we can to keep kids in school. Is it hard? Yes, yes it is. Is it putting more stress on teachers and not allowing them much or any break throughout the day? Yes, yes it is. But…I work in a place were the teachers are willing to do it so these kids can be where they belong…school, and for that I am grateful.
We are seeing a dramatic and terrifying rise in mental health concerns among young people. These kids are stressed, anxious, lonely, isolated. Sending these kids home during the coldest months of the year to “learn” via a computer screen when they can’t really spend a lot of (or any) time outside or with peers is not in their best interest. We need to do what we can to keep them in school.
What does that all mean? It means we need to wear a damn mask. I’m not looking for, am not interested in or even willing to engage in, debate with anyone about this. Wear. Your. Damn. Mask. Does it suck? Yes, it’s less than ideal, but if it keeps our kids in school, safely and among their friends, even if socially distanced, I promise you, it is what needs to happen.
I just came off a volleyball season where our girls masked the entire time, in practice, in the locker room and during games. Again, it was weird and made the whole thing a little sterile, but it happened. They got to play. They got to do something “normal” and it was glorious. It was so good for them physically and even more important it is good for them mentally. During our time together we did not have one single Covid case tied to our practicing or playing. We went in and out of other school buildings, “gathered” in a large space with a fair amount of people and intermixed with other communities…all while wearing a mask. And you know what? Not a single case of Covid. So I know, and have proof, that wearing a mask helps.
Wear your mask so kids can stay in school. Wear your masks so all the beautiful young couples who are planning weddings can get married with their friends and family in tow. Wear your masks to keep other people healthy. Even if you don’t believe it’s keeping you healthy, please wear your mask.
These kids need to be in school. I promise. I’m not wrong about this. Give them that chance.
I will admit to being “done” with all things corona virus. I will admit to having corona virus fatigue like most people. I’m over being worried about my family getting it. I’m over teaching in a mask and on zoom for digital days. I’m done with having kids in my physical classroom and others that are zooming in, because that my friends…is the definition of suck. I’m sad that former players of mine are having to cancel their weddings because of this damn virus. I’m finished with the mask debate and the division this virus has caused. I’m sad that my kids will have another vacation cancelled because of this virus (I know this is a 1st world problem). I’m sick that the thought of gathering with family for Thanksgiving is potentially dangerous. I am over all of it. Done.
But what I am NOT over is being a kind and thoughtful human being that does what is right, not what is easy. So again, I’ll ask, implore, borderline beg, even if you think it’s useless…wear your masks. Wear your masks so they don’t shut down our state, so they don’t shut down schools, to protect our children. Please.
I believe that we are given what we can handle. I also believe that what is happening to our state, our country, the world is hard, really hard. But what I also know is that we have been through hard things, worse things, before and the American people always come out on top. We will get through this. 2020 has and will continue to throw its challenges at us but I am certain that eventually this will be a distant memory, hopefully sooner rather than later!
So hang in there. Say prayers. Be kind. Wear your mask.