Parents must decide whether to send their children back to school come June 1. (Citizen file)

Editorial: Minimal risk in sending kids back to school

Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.

The province announced on May 15 that schools will be reopening on June 1. This is a really promising development, and we think parents should seriously consider sending their kids back to class.

Physically sending children back to school is still voluntary, with the ultimate decision resting with parents. There are some children who should probably not head back to the classroom just yet, such as those with underlying health conditions. But for most kids the risk will be minimal.

Parents must weigh the fact that there are very few active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island at this time, so the risk of a child catching it from a peer or from a teacher or other staff member is very low. If this wasn’t the case, it would be a whole other ballgame.

Parents also must weigh the fact that this isn’t going to be class as usual. Students will not be packed into classrooms, cheek by jowl. There will be physical distancing and sanitary measures in place. It will involve widening children’s social contacts from what they have been of late, but that’s going to have to happen sometime, and with the COVID-19 numbers being what they now are, a measured relaxation of isolation makes sense.

We cannot live forever in a bubble. What’s more, who would want to? It’s not living. We human beings are social creatures, and most of us don’t do so well with prolonged periods of isolation. Children are no different. We are starting to get on with our lives again, and so should kids.

Parents have to weigh risks for their children all the time that walk the line between preparing them to live in the world and be resilient, and making sure they can handle the situations in which they find themselves. Sending them back to school is a risk worth taking.

At this point, it seems certain that schools will be back in session come fall, and it doesn’t seem likely that the health situation will be very much different then. We’re going to have to find a new normal in the classroom just like everywhere else. We might as well do it now.

We don’t believe that our provincial health officials, who have done such an excellent job of keeping our experience of this virus manageable, would be suggesting a return to school if they didn’t believe it could be done with minimal risk. Time to poke our heads out of our comfortable nests and venture out into the world again.


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