Whew, chile! This 2022 surely came in like a hot stepper! Wasting no time, making its mark and putting us on guard. Our deepest fears were realized with a release from the Ministry of Health announcing that the Omicron is in the country. And shortly after that announcement, the numbers rose exponentially, to the likes and proportions that we have never, ever seen before. Just imagine, over the past few days, we have been racking up a significant amount of new cases and consequently have been reporting in excess of 600 plus cases. Now, without a doubt, that is indeed cause for alarm. With the spike in new cases, the Omicron variant being highly transmissible, and schools set to reopen in a few days amid deepening concerns; the decision whether or not to send your children back to school is your call, it’s up to you!
Before we analyze the educational aspect of it, it is important to objectively discuss the Omicron variant and what it entails. Evidently, the Omicron variant is extremely contagious. Given its large number of mutations compared to the Delta variant, Omicron can spread very easily and has the potential to elude vaccination and reinfect persons who have recovered from the virus. But what makes it even more concerning in the face of resumption of in-class (face-to-face) learning is the fact that the Omicron variant is highly transmissible among children, and credible reports are suggesting a spike in pediatric cases as a result of this new variant.
Consequently, teachers, parents and other educational stakeholders are very much concerned about the reopening of schools amid this fourth wave of the virus and the nature of this Omicron variant. In speaking with some teachers, parents and a few stakeholders in education, by and large, the population I surveyed were for the most part ambivalent on the matter. And one could reasonably understand why. The children, who no doubt are the future of our country, have been out of the classroom for almost 2 years now, and the need to immerse them back in a formal and structured learning environment is paramount, and some would argue is urgent.
However, there must be a direct and a concerted balance between education and health. The need to get the children back into schools, which I do concur is important, cannot and must not outweigh the collective good health, safety and security of our teachers and our children. And this is where the situation becomes complex. What do we then do? Do we further delay the return of our children to in-class learning and further deepen the educational gap that has tossed the children in a sort of pedagogical chasm? Or do we ring the bell, call in school and expose our nation’s future to a highly contagious and deadly virus that can ultimately lead to their demise?
Without a doubt, it is ultimately a tough call. And it’s one that the parents will have to make in the next few days. By all best indications, the Ministry of Education will be proceeding with their green-lit plan to resume face-to-face learning, and schools have been preparing and are prepared to welcome the children back. Schools have touted that they have a formidable plan in place to create an environment that is as safe and as conducive as possible to mitigating the likelihood of children getting sick. But can it ever be fool-proof? Absolutely not! The Omicron variant in its inherent nature and anatomy is moving through our communities like a wild brush fire, and the children are at an extreme risk for infection.
Trying to balance all that with the urgent need for students to return to classes, parents have a hard decision to make. Admittedly, I will agree that Covid-19 is a tenacious virus, and with news just breaking that a new variant “IHU” has been discovered, all indications are that Covid-19 is going to be with us for a while. So then, what do we do? Do we continue to keep the children out of school indefinitely? Do we play it by ear and ride out this fourth wave with the Omicron variant and delay the January 10th reopening of school? Or do we bite the bullet, grab the bull by the horn and proceed with the reopening of schools on January 10th, despite the exponential rise in cases amid a fourth wave? The parents will have the final say. And the decision whether or not to send your children back to school is your call, it’s up to you!
Unchained Reflections Of A Liberal Pragmatist.