I was remembering March 2020, when we are all hunkered down at home, avoiding everyone.
The streets didn’t have any traffic and schools were closed, along with many businesses, including movie theatres, swimming pools and gyms.
As we feared the worst and the unknown, there was a question that kept coming up in conversation.
“Do you know anyone with COVID?”
For the longest time, no one knew someone directly affected.
When people I knew started getting COVID, they were worried other people would find out.
There was a shame that followed people, and they were worried they would be “outed” and have repercussions personally and professionally.
As time has gone on, we have all been directly or indirectly affected by COVID. At this point, most of us know a friend or family member who’s had COVID. Maybe you’ve had COVID yourself.
With COVID spreading at high rates, the stigma around it is decreasing. As with anything in this world, the more you are exposed to something, the more accepting or understanding you become.
My daughter came to me annoyed because some children were avoiding a child who had previously had COVID and telling others: “I am staying away from them because they had COVID.”
As parents, we need to ensure our kids are understanding and share with them that many people are catching COVID and we should be appreciative of people who come forward. And being a parent, I know that as hard as you try, sometimes kids won’t listen.
Last weekend, I was following the parents’ Facebook page for my daughter’s school. Starting on Friday, there were posts popping up from parents whose children had tested positive for COVID.
Over the weekend, more and more parents were disclosing positive tests in their households. Many listed the grade and classroom of the children. These were parents wilfully sharing the information, many choosing to post anonymously.
By Sunday night, there were more than 10 posts, and I asked my daughter what she wanted to do about going to school.
I trust our government and Dr. Bonnie Henry’s guidance, and I also want to ensure my daughter has control over her life and her comfort levels are honoured.
I want to thank the parents who are sharing the information through the school tracker page, or anonymously on school Facebook groups. These are tools that allow information to be shared to help others make informed decisions.
It also allows children to see that they are not alone if they are faced with a positive test.
A friend of mine told me that they received a phone call from a fellow parent explaining that their family had tested positive, including their child. She was calling because their children had spent time together recently. My friend said: “Is there anything I can do to help? Can I bring you anything?”
“That was not the response I was expecting,” said the other parent.
COVID is travelling through our schools, as it is other community groups. There is no perfect answer, and we can all do our best to make the most informed decisions. Leadership takes courage, and the families that are sharing information and reducing stigma are much appreciated.
If someone does disclose a positive test result, we should be thanking them for sharing, and asking how we can help support them.