Right in the centre - Some advice I have picked up


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

It is likely a good thing that the Province of Manitoba has largely left it to local school divisions to set the ground rules for students going back to school this fall. If they had imposed top-down rules, it would have had the same disastrous results that happen whenever top down rules are forced on local situations.

Just to show how out of touch upper levels of government can be, the federal government has pressed its nose into return to school policies. Never mind that the federal government has absolutely no say on education in Canada, they have put forward some rules and suggestions. The most hilarious one is that Ottawa has suggested classes be moved outside whenever possible. That will work well in Ottawa in December, won’t it? Perhaps there is enough hot air there to warm the place up.

No, the province’s education department, under the quiet, but firm guidance of education Minister Kelvin Goertzen of Steinbach, has left the back-to school rules to the local divisions. It’s no small task, but if local school divisions are in charge, there is at least some hope of reasonable policies.

Parents have a number of concerns and they are shared by the whole community. Students need to get back to school. Some parents may choose to go with home schooling and that’s fine, but it isn’t a decision that can be, or will be, taken by the majority of families. Schools will likely go back into class in September and yes, there will be risk.

COVID-19 will likely keep on popping up, but so will a host of other diseases that we don’t pay much attention to and haven’t for years. There will be coughs, colds, runny noses, anxiety, depression and a host of other issues this fall. There always has been and always will be. C-19 is just the latest disease to attack mankind and it might be around for a long time.

Folks, let’s get a grip here. COVID is a nasty disease and it has caused eight deaths to date of this writing. Eight! I wish Manitoba Health would give us a breakdown of how many deaths have happened due to other causes. Influenza has likely killed twice that many in the same period, if yearly averages are prevailing. How may suicides have there been, how many traffic accidents?

In our area, the community hardly bats an eye at suicides anymore. Manitoba aborts about 150 babies a month on average in 2017. Yes, aborted babies are people deaths too and so we have lost eight to C-19 and 750 to abortion since March 1, 2020. To put that into a yearly perspective, the Manitoba class of 2020 will be short about 1,800 students due to abortion. We don’t have as much of a Coronavirus problem as we have a perception and reality problem.

We need some perspective on life and death and reality.

When it comes to schools resuming classes, there will be difficulties, no doubt. It remains to be seen, but C-19 doesn’t “appear” to affect children nearly as much as older people. If a child has a compromised health condition, then the game changes, for sure. Same with staff who may have a compromised health situation.

Life has to go on, so many services have to be maintained. There is only so much a person or a community can do. What has been done so far seems to be working. Wash your hands, use hand sanitizer, cover your coughs or sneezes. That isn’t new. I was taught to cover coughs and sneezes in Grade 1 at the school in Holland, Manitoba in 1954. We were required to have a handkerchief in our pocket at all times and we were supposed to make sure it was a clean one. We didn’t have kleenex boxes everywhere back in  those days. As quaint or archaic as it sounds, the roll call was called every morning and you were marked in attendance, if you had brushed your teeth that day and if you had a handkerchief.

I have full faith that in most cases, the schools, the teachers and students will figure this all out. If C-19 takes a nasty turn, and it could, I guess the schools will shut down for a week or two.

So far, there are less than 600 cases out of over 100,000 tests in Manitoba. We need to be careful, but the chances of getting C-19 are still very small and the chances of dying from some other cause are far higher.

As always, we need to use our head, take precautions, stay home if we are sick and don’t panic. Fear isn’t how we are supposed to live. God clearly taught that we are not to live in fear, but with love power and a sound mind. Good advice.

Disclaimer: The writer serves as a volunteer chair of the Manitoba Community Newspaper Association. The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being  the view of the MCNA board or Banner & Press staff.