I had an opportunity to chat with a friend who was back in the classroom on Monday. My comment was basically asking her how she felt about being back with students face to face instead of through her computer.
I expected to hear a message of satisfaction that things had returned to whatever passes for the classroom routine. There was a bit of that but then a caveat – “for now, until it’s shut down again”. I knew immediately where she was coming from.
Nothing is certain. Well, one thing is certain … the breakfast sandwiches at Tim Horton’s. As Tyler Watt had noted on Twitter…
When all this COVID stuff started, I was a regular watcher of the 1:00pm press conference. We were all learning about just what was happening. I think most of us were incredibly scared. Around here, we developed greater empathy for long term care homes, migrant farm workers, and shut-ins. At the time, there was a certain, strong message of the government taking this incredibly seriously, working their way through things.
How many times have we heard “we’ll spare no expense”?
As time moved on, the press conference started to change. The message seemed forced at times and we heard the same messages over and over again. We heard about the same money being spent over and over again. We’re now in a time where the message from the press conference seems to be a heads-up that the real message will be coming some time in the future.
When we got into the levels within various health units, things got really fuzzy. When we hit lockdown and stay at home, things got even fuzzier. We’re supposed to stay at home but can go out to buy essential things, get curb service somewhere else, and were encouraged to support local restaurants with takeout. It was a black and white message with shades of grey (groan) applied.
So, back to the Ontario schools opening now or soon and Ontario society which will be re-opened next week or in the next two weeks if you’re living in Toronto or Peel. We no longer devote time to watch the press conferences; it’s easy to catch up on social media later on. Yesterday though, we happened to have the radio on and tuned to AM800 and listened to the message being delivered.
There was a positive message for most places and even more positive messages for the three health units from eastern Ontario that go first because of low numbers. There was less than this for Toronto and Peel. But overriding all these was a message that there would be no hesitation in shutting things down again if the government sees numbers spike again. My friend has no doubt that we’re going to see numbers in schools head up. If they go up too much, things could be shut down again.
The missing factor in all this is “by how much”. We have this “health table” that supposedly makes recommendations, presumably on the same data that we’re all seeing and undoubtedly more, but we’re kept in the dark as to what constitutes a “problem”. I find that challenging to get my head around.
We’re all big people in this game and yet we don’t know what all the rules are. We’re just expected to go with the message delivered at these press conferences. A year ago when we were struggling to understand what was doing on, I think we were comfortable with this. But, it’s gotten to be old. I think, as a society, we’ve become more educated about dangers, viruses, and vaccines than we ever could have imagined.
Following a direction blindly is becoming more difficult to do. The threat that, if numbers change, we’ll be in trouble again is tough to deal with. Give us the numbers and explain what the data should be telling us. We’re big people and just knowing makes it easier to understand and support.
The one thing that is certain from that particular press conference is that the Premier used the podium to talk about one restaurant that has a product that he likes. I really didn’t need to know that.