Published in Lifestyles 55 September, 2020
These summer months have flown by. That’s how I always feel when September rolls around- where did the summer go?! This summer, however, has been especially different. With the constant influx of COVID-19 news, the rapidly changing public health situation, the heightened sense of anxiety over the spread of this virus, it’s been a different kind of summer. While this is our new normal and we will be dealing with this virus until a vaccine is made, I encourage everyone to reach out to friends and family. This new normal is incredibly stressful and difficult for many- let’s talk about it. Let others know you’re struggling, call a friend who you think might be struggling, and access the available resources. The Province of Manitoba has created a website for anyone in need of mental health resources during this time. It is a free, online resource created to help Manitobans get through these undoubtedly difficult times. Please check out https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/bewell/virtualtherapy.html for more information.
As many of you have seen, Manitoba has been able to reach this point in the pandemic with relatively low case numbers compared to other jurisdictions across Canada. That is a testament to how incredibly hard all of us have worked to slow the spread and flatten the curve. Washing our hands, staying home when sick, and physically distancing are all acts that have made a difference in helping to flatten the curve.
Now, as we head into the fall season, we must acknowledge that we will be living with this virus for some time yet; it is important that we learn to live with it. For now, in accordance with recommendations from Manitoba’s public health officials, this means a return to learning for students in kindergarten to grade 12. I know that this is going to be difficult for many families. Many of us are watching the movement of the case numbers every day. We must keep in mind the protocols that public health officials have been advising since early on in this pandemic. It’s important that we wash our hands frequently and stay home when we are unwell.
Each school district is in charge of putting together a school re-opening plan that would work in their jurisdiction. This allows school officials to work with the layouts and population sizes in their district while following public health orders. While I understand that there will be difficulties in this undertaking, I believe in the officials, both with public health and with education, that they will be able to work together to find a sensible approach. Children will be required to wash hands frequently, socially distance when possible, and when it’s not possible to socially distance, will be required to stay within their cohort. To name just a few of the measures that schools will undertake: schools will be required to sanitize commonly touched surfaces regularly and develop at-home learning packages for students who are staying home to isolate or quarantine.
Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s Chief Public Health Officer, has been clear that COVID-19 is an evolving situation. It has evolved since the first sign of its presence in Manitoba. Manitoba’s public health orders have evolved along with the pandemic every step of the way. As our province steps closer to our back to school plans, I trust that public health officials are working diligently to consider and reconsider measures to keep our students safe.
September, 2020 will be the beginning of a very different school year. This is an unprecedented time in our lives. I know that many of us are experiencing varying levels of stress and an especially heightened sense of anxiety. It’s important to acknowledge this anxiety and reach out. It’s also important that we learn to live with COVID-19 at this time.
As our weather cools and we turn our focus back to fall and the changes that will come along with the next season, I urge you all to continue to be vigilant with hand hygiene and to stay home when unwell.
For the latest information on COVID-19 in Manitoba, please check out https://www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/index.html.