School is different this year for the obvious reason of preventing the transmission of the novel coronavirus that results in COVID-19 infection.
At this point, it seems that no one in Virden area has the virus, but that is not for sure since people can carry the virus without symptoms. And, as people travel, work and shop, the virus-free status can change at any time.
According to information on school websites, such as is found on Mary Montgomery K-4 School web page, students will be guided to minimize traffic flow in halls and bathrooms. They will have staggered recess times and might even get to eat lunch outside while the weather is cooperative.
Parents are encouraged to transport their own kids to and from school, to minimize school bus contact, and they might get called to quickly pick up an unwell child as any symptom will be suspect. However, buses are running. It looked like a complicated stage production as the clipboard carrying principal strode the sidewalk and teachers worked to make sure students and their parents got paired-up after school on Sept. 8.
I recall being a school child of about six or seven at our little Arrow River School. I didn’t know it was little, it seemed big to me, with older kids that I barely knew. Occasionally, there were days when my mother would be in town for groceries or to see my grandmother. Either of them would meet me at the school yard gate so I didn’t get in the van (no buses at that time, just specially designated cars).
One day, the message got mixed up and I thought my mother was coming for me and I was not to get in the school van. Waiting and waiting, no mother showed up and no grandmother. So, I set out walking home. I felt that I could.
It was five miles of dusty gravel roads with many small hills. Don’t you know, the fields, ditches and sloughs look very different on a walk than in a drive-by! I probably shed a few tears before setting out.
I was amazed and relieved when someone trustworthy stopped and asked me what I was doing – a small child out on the road at 4:30 in the afternoon. I also recall a sense of disappointment that I wouldn’t get to finish what had taken courage to start – my walk home.
Of course, my over-protective mother was horrified that such a mistake had been made and her little girl was left to walk home. I don’t recall who made the mistake – well, obviously I did. But with a good neighbour, it all turned out fine and an important part of my education.
Note to parents: realize, your kids know if you are over-protective and they may compensate for that with risky behaviours.
Day in and day out, school attendance has the means to challenge us. It’s not different today. The challenge just has a new name - COVID-19.