From a very young age, we teach our children that NO ONE is allowed to make them feel unsafe. We teach them that if they feel unsafe, they need to trust that weird feeling that they feel ( which we later teach them is their ‘gut’, their ‘instinct’). We remind them that NO ONE can include a friend, a teacher and even a doctor.
Yet, here we are, so many parents throughout the province, feeling unsafe.
Many of us WANT our kids back in the classroom.
Many of us NEED our kids to be back in the classroom.
Many of us are feeling anxious about sending our kids back into the classroom under the current guidelines, because it feels unsafe.
ALL OF US want our kids to be safe whether or not they are in the classroom.
I think there is one thing that we can all agree on:
There is no one-size-fits all solution to the issue of Back-To-School in Quebec this year.
The situation is impossible. For SO many families keeping kids home is an impossibility. I don’t need to list the reasons- they are all different and they are all valid.
For so many families, sending kids to school represents a risk to either physical or mental health or both that cannot be fathomed given the family’s circumstances. Reasons are different, and they are valid.
SO what are the solutions?
Right now, there don’t seem to be any, but lots of people are ‘working on it’. PARENTS have lots of great ideas and are bringing them to light. We say that ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. It’s true, and what it essentially means is that we are all in this together and we need to find ways to support one another. Right now is the time to BE. THE. VILLAGE.
Below are some parent-led initiatives that you may find helpful. Just as there is no one-size-fits-all Back To School plan, not all of the ideas below will appeal to you or be helpful to your particular situation. As a good friend of mine likes to say: ‘Take what you like and throw the rest out’.
(1) Take the Parent Pledge. If your child is returning to the classroom, by taking the pledge and sticking to it, parents and students can ensure that schools will be safer. This particular pledge was written by Montreal Mom Joy Gandell, who is also a Life Skills Coach working with the neurodiverse community. The version I have shared is slightly edited (with her permission). Click here to see the original version which includes the link to an excellent article that supports it very well. I recommend sharing the pledge on your social media page and hopefully others will follow. You can also circulate it within your parent group at school. Most importantly- Remember to honour its words.
(2) Connect with parents in your school: If your school does not already have a Private Facebook Group for Parents – consider starting one and spreading the word throughout the parent body. Having channels of communication open can be a great way to communicate when needed- whether it is simply a great idea that you believe can be implemented and help everyone out, or whether it is to communicate if something is not going well.
(3) Join a SAFE and DISTANCED Protest by keeping your child(ren) home through September 3rd, IF you have the capability of doing so. Montreal Mom Rain Zaben had the idea to encourage parents who are nervous about sending their kids to school. Professionally, Rain is a Transformational Coach and Healer and she wants parents to feel empowered to keep them home until September 3rd. Why September 3rd? Because that is the date of the injunction hearing for the legal challenge to Quebec’s back-to-school policy, namely the mandatory attendance and restricted remote learning policies. That is the date when the Judge will hear the arguments related to the safeguard injunction. He may rule from the bench (as in immediately), or he may choose to take more time – typically not much. If he rules in favour of the plaintiffs, then anyone who wishes to keep their children home would be able to do so from that point forward without consequences and until the case is fully resolved in court. When Rain came up with her idea, it was mainly because she felt that parents are AFRAID of going against what is being imposed upon them, and she also wanted to empower those who are able to keep their children home to do so, not only because they may feel better about keeping their own children at home, but in order to make classrooms less populated, and thus safer. Finally she is hoping that this movement will make a statement about the importance of granting parents the option of distance learning without a medical note. Some parents have asked what to tell their school? My personal opinion? Just say you are keeping your child home as part of the #PauseToProtest #PauseToProtect Movement. Remember that this is not an all-or-nothing initiative- if you want to participate, you can, even if you can only keep your child home for one or some of the days. You do it, the way you can do it.
(4) Take Part in Empty Desk Day by keeping you child(ren) home on September 3rd. Spearheaded by Montreal Mom T. Scarlett Jory, this SAFE and DISTANCED event may be a better choice for those who cannot be home with their kids for multiple days in the same week. You can still participate in sending a unified message, and making arrangements to miss one day of work may be more ‘do-able’ for you.
(5) Bookmark covidecolesquebec.org and you can also Follow them on Twitter. Montreal Dad Olivier Drouin wanted to create a site where all cases in schools could be tracked. Should you become aware of a case in your school, ensure that you report it to this website which is keeping track of cases in schools. Anyone can access the website to check if there has been a case in your school or in a school nearby. You can submit positive cases of COVID-19 in your schools, whether you are a parent, teacher, service centre employee or citizen. Note: I prefer looking at the desktop version than on mobile because I find it easier to see all of the different schools, but it may that there is a glitch in my phone.
(6) If you have not yet taken part in the letter writing campaign- please do so! As mentioned in my previous post, I started this initiative in order to make it easier for parents to send letters, but pre-writing the letters for you. The Letter Writing Campaign materials are available in both English and French. They include instructions on how best to choose the letter that is right for you, customizing, addresses where you can send it. It’s pretty much ‘plug & play’. You will find these materials in UNIT 7 (ENG) and UNIT 8 (FR) in the Action Parentale Québecois 2020 Group on FB
(7) Support the LEGAL CHALLENGE to Quebec’s Back To School Plan. These parents are fighting for us all. They are less than $5000 away from their goal. If every parent who has something to gain by a positive outcome in the case gave even just $5 or $10, their fundraising goal would be reached. ( there are certainly more than one thousand families who stand to gain from a favourable ruling). Please consider supporting this initiative as it stands to benefit the kids in the classrooms by reducing the number of kids in the classroom and permitting those who prefer or need their children to distance learn from home to be able to do so.
(8) Consider joining the following Facebook groups, if you have not done so already. They are sharing information and empowering parents to speak up and effect change. They are Action Parentale Québecois 2020 Group on FB and Quebec Parents Stand Together
Sending vibes of gratitude to all of the parents who stood up to take action by creating the initiatives above.
I would love to hear if you are going to be participating in any of these initiatives or if you have a different idea of your own!
Wishing everyone strength this week, and remember that it is up to us to BE. THE. VILLAGE.