I’m fully vaccinated. Thank God for that, since this high blood pressure and going more than a year without a haircut was starting to pose a threat. My wife has now had her second shot and has a fresh sore arm to prove it.
It took Virginia long enough, but we’re finally here. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in all its consistent and totally trustworthy wisdom, says we both can now go outside again and enjoy the world as we did in the before times.
The CDC has cleared children 12 years and older for the vaccine and was reporting that as of Friday 120 million people have been fully vaccinated.
Honestly, that combination of facts is amazing and lowkey frightening. But our son isn’t vaccinated and though things are speeding along with getting the children sorted out, we still don’t know when or if he’ll get his turn. He’s 8 years old and a few years off where science has reached. Thank you, scientists, by the way. You’re doing the lord’s work.
So what do we do now? What are parents supposed to do in a world where the metrics tell us our young children are probably fine to mingle with the un-vaccinated, but the past year and a half tells us, not yet.
From having toilet paper delivered to going back to school already?
We’ve come this far. We’ve dealt with remote learning. We’ve weathered fears of infecting each other. We’ve worn masks literally everywhere. We’ve had everything from water and toilet paper to new office equipment delivered to avoid the outside we’re now told is magically safe again.
Parents of children my son’s age now have to decide if it’s time to put all those precautions and small overreactions aside. Do we send our kids back to school in the fall if a vaccine isn’t available to them? Can we afford, financially and mentally, to do another round of remote learning?
Then there are the families who have immunocompromised children or children with disabilities. Those kids either don’t have the immune system for any kind of infection or have almost zero chance of sticking to the lingering COVID restrictions schools will impose. My autistic son, for example, will have real trouble sticking to strict spatial and distancing rules.
What if it’s your kid?:Parents of young children feel forgotten as CDC loosens mask restrictions
He wears his mask when he goes outside but that won’t matter if he’s in a room of students who will either have problems keeping the mask on or will inevitably be told it’s fine to take them off.
And for those wondering, it’s not too soon to be asking those questions. Our district already made us choose.
A little more than 77 percent of families chose in-personal learning, according to data released by the district. Another 17 percent will default to that because they didn’t choose. We would fall in the 5 percent who chose virtual learning. Only we went another way.
Light at the end of the tunnel? We see it, too, but it’s farther for us
We chose to break free of the whole system. We’re going to home school. All the signs point to it being safe for our son to return to the classroom, given those restrictions. But we’re just not ready to play what if this close to certainty.
Teachers have told us it will be a challenge for him to stick to those guidelines. And the district has made it clear that enforcing distance rules will be hard.
Home schooling is not something we take lightly or are overly excited about, if I’m being honest.
Distance learning has been rough. We both have college degrees and love this child more than our next breath. But, we do not have the skill set or patience of his sainted teachers. I don’t know how teachers do what they do. But thank the heavens for them and for those who have already offered to help with lesson plans.
We’re talking about a kid who knew the alphabet before he started preschool and can do math and read above his grade level. The other day he showed my wife how to change the time on her phone.
But put a Zoom classroom in front of him and good luck. Try to stick to a remote schedule when the living room is downstairs.
He just now said, “I want to do social studies downstairs while playing Minecraft”.
We just decided that we’ve come too far. We’ve been too safe. We’ve isolated too long to just shrug and leave it up to chance.
I’m very excited about the progress we’ve made on vaccines and have full faith that my son will have his day. And I’m happy for the families who can start getting back to normal and who are seeing the light at the of this scary and heart-breaking tunnel.
Just please give the rest of us a moment or two. We’ll see you on the other side soon enough, with our masks around our neck.
Louie Villalobos is audience development editor for USA TODAY Opinion. Follow him on Twitter: @louievillalobos