In my home state of Maine there are signs in Portland that remind the passersby to “Stay The Course” and remain vigilant in taking precautions against Covid-19. There was a brief window of time in late spring of 2021 when it seemed as though the end of their usefulness might be in sight. Vaccines were not just working to reduce risk of hospitalization and death for their recipients, they seemed successful at preventing the vaccinated from transmitting the virus.
Early summer may have been the eye of the storm. The highly contagious Delta variant has caused surges in case counts and upended the brief period of calm when it seemed that vaccinated individuals were not contagious. Now we have to do more than stay the course, we have to resume the course after a brief window of respite when it felt safe for our kids to be around family, friends and caregivers again.
According to Google trends, the phrase “pandemic fatigue” reached its search peak in October of 2020 in the United States. That was almost a year ago, and pandemic fatigue has evolved into pandemic exhaustion. I’m tired. I don’t know when I’ll hold my sister’s newborn baby or whether it is safe for our children to stay overnight at their grandparents’ house. These are small complaints in a world of unequal access to vaccines, healthcare, childcare, and safe workplaces. That knowledge layers guilt on top of the loss I feel when we separate our children from their cousins.
As we return to Park, I feel added weight knowing that if I miscalculate an optional risk, it could impact the health of the community. The availability of patio dining once again has a small but extant possibility of being a life-or-death situation, not just for those choosing to dine, but for their spider’s web of contacts. Remaining vigilant when possible after over a year and a half of sacrifice and social isolation will test our endurance and resolve.
I remember how well the leadership team, staff, faculty and families at Park navigated the Covid pandemic last year. The virus has evolved, but so have testing options and understanding of the virus. Park’s test and stay policy made possible by rapid test kits will help mitigate risk and keep our children in the classroom.
I believe that The Park School community is capable of the strength, grit and ingenuity needed to make the school year as safe as possible despite the increased challenges of the Delta variant. Risk reduction can be a thankless job. If you do it right, you’ll never know you made a difference. We did it last year, and we can do it again. We are counting on each other, and our children are counting on us. Stay The Course.
Park Parent Editorial Team