The Two Worlds of Covid

First of all, this is not a debate on the seriousness of the Coronavirus. I am assuming everyone reading this is educated. This is to simply offer insight to things we might not be considering.

Last week, I was talking to someone who recently started a new job waitressing. Soon after she began, she developed a low grade temp and had to stay home from work. When I talked to her Saturday she was ready to return to work because she’s desperate for money. No money coming in means rent can’t be paid. It doesn’t meant she dips into her “savings.” If rent isn’t paid, she loses her housing. If she loses her housing, she loses her child (because someone would for sure report her as homeless). If she loses her child, she slips back into drugs. See the cycle? You know what I gleaned from our short convo? She will never self report a fever again. Too much is on the line.

Still think this is no big deal?

I recently read something about the differences in families facing school decisions. One mom discussed the inconvenience of working from home and trying to do school online, but it was doable if necessary. Her husband could help and they had the resources available. Is it ideal? No. Doable. Yes. Another mom commented how she didn’t have that option. She was a single mom and her kids couldn’t stay home alone. School was the only option for her to work.

That led to the discussion of Corona Privilege and what that means.

For me, it meant the spring semester was no fun. 5 kids were home, 4 trying to be on ZOOM at one time, internet wouldn’t support it, 2 year old with tele-therapy, husband working from home, then laid off, etc. It was hard. But it was doable. And to be honest….my kids missed their friends but actually liked it. We had all the resources and necessary support to make it happen. We had Corona Privilege. My guess is, a lot of you do too.

So, what does this mean? Do we just ignore things and push for regular business as usual because the gap between the rich and poor is only growing wider? Do we just open schools like normal because parents have to work?

You can’t enter Children’s Hospital without answering questions, wearing a mask, having your temperature taken, and (typically) one adult per child. If you have a loved one in the hospital, you can’t just run up and visit. At my kids pediatric clinic, you can’t take your child to a check up in the afternoon because that’s now reserved for sick appointments. You can’t enter until you are escorted to a room.

We are delivering wine to your home to keep people from crowding liquor stores for goodness sakes.

But, we expect schools to somehow screen hundreds of kids daily all while being paid peanuts. And, we expect them to figure it out on their own. Each school is fending for themselves. And the only guidance is this: Schools need to re-open as normal.

To be clear….I think it’s best if schools re-open as well. It’s a safety net for so much of our society, but it shouldn’t re-open on the altar of the educator. Most of our educators are women. You know what that means historically? We are the caretakers. We care for our elderly parents, sick children at home, basically everyone. And I’ve yet to meet a snot nosed 5 year old that cared about social distancing.

What’s the answer? Well, if it were any other organization it would be funding and proper equipment. And educated people giving sensible guidelines that keep teachers and children safe. For some reason the idea and notion of that seems so foreign when dealing with education. We expect schools to function as parent, babysitter, and chef on a paupers budget. And we expect them to do it while literally sacrificing their life.

What’s happening now is tragic. Those of us with Corona Privilege will make decisions and do things others can only dream of. Our families in poverty will have to put their children on a bus and hope for the best. Teenagers who were already on the verge of dropping out will never go back to school again. This is the nudge they needed.

The gap is no longer a gap. It’s a chasm. And the people falling in the hole are people of color and those stuck in poverty. They won’t be able to get out of this one by, “pulling themselves up by their boot straps.” There are no boots available. Let alone boot straps.

Do what’s necessary to keep your family safe, but don’t just do it for your own family. Please. Do it for those who can’t make those same decisions. Wear a mask because the checker at Walmart may truly lose everything if he/she has to quarantine at home because of a low grade temp. Stay home if someone in your house has a fever, because someone up the road is deciding between paying rent and feeding their kids. Homeschool if you choose, but make some noise about the decisions other parents are being forced to make. Use that same privilege you used to call out racial injustice to call out this one.

And do me a favor: If you decide to sit on the sidelines and judge others for what they are doing while living life as normal, please remember this. When the number of kids entering the system due to poverty/neglect start to rise; call me. I can rush over the necessary paperwork to foster.

Besides….you may be the very reason they lost their job when you refused to take precautions and infected them. In all your Corona Privilege glory.

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