As a parent, when our children are ill we want to help them get better. We also wrestle with how much school or which activities they’ll miss. And, let’s be honest, it can also impact our own work, and that presents its own dilemmas. As we digest the central Vermont COVID outbreak and its subsequent impact on workplaces and schools, and as we enter into the winter months, we all need to be attentive to how our actions impact our communities.

A couple of weekends ago, my family and I were all looking forward to a Saturday morning of soccer.  It was to be our daughter’s first bus trip to an away game. She was excited for the game, and excited for the ride with her teammates. 

Unfortunately, when Saturday arrived, she woke up feeling crummy. Given the world that we are living in, it was easy to catastrophe and wonder if she had “it.” But, given the helpful guidelines that our school nurses had created, my wife and I were able to quickly remember that she didn’t have any of the big symptoms (in the red box), just some standard cold symptoms.

In our family, we come from a belief and culture of working through adversity and supporting our teammates.  We also want to support our kids in having new experiences and playing hard.  Yet, as members of the community we also believe in the need to look out for one another’s health and well-being. So, following the nurse’s guidelines and in the interest in keeping the team and those around us healthy we made the decision to notify the coach and keep our daughter quarantined and miss her first away game.

Honestly, it felt weird to stay home, when the urge was to show up and support the team. It challenged our belief in the need to send our daughter to play, or even for her to sit on the sidelines and cheer for her teammates. But, in this world that we find ourselves living in, many of our habits and beliefs seem to be challenged on a daily basis.

Then came the school week. With precious few days of in-person instruction, we were faced with another dilemma – keep her home and miss her few in-person school days?  Perhaps it was paranoia, but when I called the doctor I noticed, and mentioned, that I was also starting to feel a sore throat coming on.  Sure enough, our doctor recommended that we quarantine until we could get a COVID test, which was arranged for later that afternoon.  We would also be required to quarantine until the results were available.

So here we were, my daughter missing one of the few days of in-person instruction she had available to her, and personally being faced with the prospect of not being in the school. While still needing to do the essential work of trying to keep school running smoothly and plan for opening it up further, this was not an easy place to be. 

Now, granted, we are fortunate to have health insurance and the ability to work remotely.  But as someone who deeply values working hard but also doing what is right for our community, in this case doing the right thing felt somewhat counter-intuitive.  Instead of powering through, we needed to hunker down.  As I reflect back on the moment where I considered toughing it out, Dr. Levine’s comment during this week’s press conference about certain decisions during this pandemic seems to resonate: “what we can do, is not always what we should do.”

I am happy to report that our test results were negative and it was just a seasonal cold.  We did remain in Quarantine as recommended and our girls are back to practicing for their final games of the season. 

It seems as if we are faced with tough decisions about things that we used to consider day-to-day things.  Yet, in this new normal, just taking that time to pause, reflect on what is most important and what we are really after in the big picture might just help us with moments where we’d prefer to just do what we have always done.  Perhaps most importantly, please know that all of us in your schools will continue to support you and your kiddos as we all work together to keep one another healthy so we can all make it through this.

Take care, be well and stay healthy.

Justin Brown is the Principal at BFA Fairfax Middle School. He is a regular contributor to THE FWSU STORY. You can follow him on Twitter @jbrownenator.

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