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Keep calm and teach on

Jody Vance: As school returns, the nerves of parents and teachers are understandably frayed – but in-class instruction is simply too vital to forego.
The new abnormal

As a young adult, the lone piece of art above my dining room table was a framed poster of Robert Fulghum’s All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

This simple list resonated in my teens and stuck. Solid reminders of life’s basic lessons put plainly – and perhaps worthy of revising on a very unusual back to school week?

Share everything (verbally)

Play Fair (distantly)

Don’t hit people (or touch them at all)

Put things back where you found them (preferably sanitized)

Clean up your own mess. (clean everything)

Don’t take things that aren’t yours (or, again, touch them)

Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. (breaking public health orders can and does hurt others)

Wash your hands before you eat (Or, constantly)

Flush (some things don’t change)

Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you (ditto)

Live a balanced life: learn some; think some; draw and paint and dance and play and work every day some.(While keeping 1-2 metres distance or wearing a mask)

Take a nap every afternoon (social distancing is easy when unconscious)

When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands (if in your bubble) and stick together (but distanced)

With so many nerves in tatters this back to school week, let’s soak up these reminders of why we go to school.

Study, learning, socializing, academics. Creating strong citizens, regardless of their start or standing in life.

Full-time, in-class learning is a necessity. During this pandemic we have seen the unintended negative impacts on kids. They’re massive, worse so if we don’t get back to some semblance of normalcy. Now is a great time for a gentle reminder that this is not just about junior getting into the IB program, but kids from all walks learning the lessons of fairness and sharing. Community.

As a nervous parent, even without a pandemic, I get the fear. With a kid off to public high school at the ripe old age of 12 who really, really wants to go, I’m telling myself to trust science. Will it be easy for me? Nope. Will every teacher and administrator in his school feel breezy about it? No. Will we find our way? Yes.

The Middle this big week is more about self talk than direction. We parents are absolutely allowed to be freaked out – but let’s draw the line at amping up the kids too.

For some kids, school is the only safe place.

My Dad was a teacher. I’ve literally lost count of the number of former students of his reaching out with stories of how he “saved” their lives. He arrived early at Britannia High school and opened the showers for kids who didn’t otherwise have access to one. He’d bring food.

He’d also set the bar high and expect them to step up. He was, and still is, a hardass; he would be leading the charge back to class in the name of being there for those kids living with way less.

Yes, the health of teachers matters — obviously — just like every other frontline worker. There are so many essential workers doing what needs doing in the name to keep us all going. You know the list. If teachers feel the need to take leave during a pandemic, they should; far better than being panicked in the workplace when that’s where kids learn to cope with the challenges of life.

Learning the life lessons that might one day hang on their wall.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.