Bursting bubbles


This whole COVID thing has introduced so many terms and words to everyday common usage. The one I’m thinking about today is “bubble”.

It’s actually not new to those who have engaged in social media. Often we hear about social media bubbles where the messages are safe and the content is something that you expect and have come to rely on. It’s comfortable inside that bubble.

Photo by Zdeněk Macháček on Unsplash

In COVID times, the bubble takes on a new interpretation. We’ve all been counseled to maintain a social bubble of no more than 10 people. It’s a tough call; it means that there are people that we might normally run across in some cases but perhaps not enough to make it to your inner circle of 10.

We were pretty careful about this and managed to keep our circle to 10 people and we were good about it. I’ll tell you, it made for some narrow interactions but the end goal was personal safety. That’s not to say that we didn’t interact with others at all – it was just different. We’d still have a coffee with friends but typically it was coffee that we made at home in a portable cup and we’d meet up in a park on a opposite ends of a bench and outside. It was social interaction like no other.

In a perfect world, everyone would have done this sort of thing. Keep those connections to 10 and under and success! Sadly, it only takes one person to make a bad decision and all heck can break out. This is a sad story of how it happened locally.

Windsor-Essex community cluster of COVID-19 reaches 37 cases

Don’t skip over the link – follow it and spend a moment or two digesting the image that maps it out – how one person can start a reaction that has now reached 37. The actual events aren’t out of the ordinary but the results most certainly are.

But let’s go back to the bubbles. Assume that everyone has followed the rules.

Things are about to change in Ontario schools. Even the best bubble followers are going to be be in a new situation when school buildings re-open. We’ve all heard how it’s all hands on deck, best solution in Canada, thousands of dollars spent, kids don’t catch it, and yet all of the best practice of bubbles of 10 will now be burst.

Even the best case scenario of a class of 15 plus a teacher violates the basic bubble rule. There’s no chance whatsoever that those 15 have been in the same social bubble these past six months. And, even if they were, who would want to expand to 16 and have the teacher hanging around. While there may be a bit of an overlap of bubbles, consider the worst case scenario of each of those 15 having their own unque bubble of 10. Now, they’re all in the same room. Do the mathematics.

The total number of people in this new cluster (we can’t really call it a bubble anymore) just exploded. As we know, the lucky number 15 isn’t available everywhere. We’re seeing teachers checking in with numbers sometimes doubling that.

But grocery store and other commercial workers have dealt with hundreds of people a day; it’s time for teachers to step up and do their share!

Just this week, we had to go to the local grocery store and I took time to really analyze things. The checkout person is behind a plexiglass screen. The stockers moved out of the aisle to let customers pass. There was a little interaction but even paying for product was done by tap. Credit and Debit cards are encouraged. We bagged our own purchases and sterilized going in and going out of the store. (And, for good measure, a squirt when we got back to the car)

There is no parallel to be drawn as far as I can see. This doesn’t belittle anyone’s job; there’s that element of danger in them all. The grocery store seemed to have planned for all alternatives. Clerks were even able to have a break when needed. It’s not work as usual for them but there is a plan.

Those at the store clearly were following the rules from their employers. Those of us who were there to make purchases were grownups and we followed the store rules to the best of our abilities. The arrows on the floor seemed always to be pointing in the wrong direction but it helped add to the daily step count!

Schools will be different. We all know that. Even those that are throwing stones have to know and understand that it’s not the same game.

I hope and pray that educators and students alike play the game to its fullest with the tools provided. Sterilize, distance, mask, follow directions – all the components need to be adhered to. This is no time to get compacent and maybe wink at a rule.

This whole thing just became very serious.

OTR Links 09/10/2020


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