Editorial – Well, here we go!

Jeff Burgar

Are we ready to get back to “normal” whatever that might be? Probably not. But steps forward are happening. Stores, restaurants, businesses are re-opening. A big step of course, is returning students to school.

Secondary education institutions like NAIT, SAIT and the University of Alberta all have moved many classes online. Regular school systems, Kindergarten to Grade 12, are also beginning a new year. There are online options but in general, smaller class sizes, staggered classes, and plans for distancing are all intended to get students back in class.

Naturally, there is concern. No parent wants to see their child become a statistic. No parent wants to see their child become a source of infection to themselves, neighbours, grandparents, uncles or aunts or even school teachers. It’s all going to be a “roll the dice” experience in these coming weeks.

Experts say students of school age themselves have little to fear. The COVID-19 virus appears to have little effect on young people. At the same time, they say such youngsters may show no symptoms, but can infect older people. Which of course, the oldest of the old, along with those with pre-existing conditions such as diabetes or asthma, have been seen to be especially vulnerable to the virus.

It is all going to be quite nerve-wracking for many of us.

That is probably an understatement. There is no vaccine. The winter flu season is coming. People are more likely to be indoors. People are again mixing and mingling. A family may return from shopping in Grande Prairie or Edmonton with the virus. School-age kids, without even knowing, infect other students at school. The infected kids go home from school and infect others. Eventually, the infections reach the elderly and the vulnerable.

Is there any alternative? We would all like to think that someplace in Canada, there are very smart people considering possibilities. What if schools have to be closed again because disease numbers are shooting through the roof? What if the federal government has to mail out more and more cheques to everybody, so rents and bank loans can be paid, and families can eat? What happens if China won’t send Canada washing machines, TVs and tools because they decide our money isn’t worth very much? What happens if China wants grain crops, lumber and beef, and can’t pay us? What happens if we have to turn back the clock to June or July and close everything again, just to slow down the spread of sickness so hospitals are not overwhelmed?

Fortunately, just about all politicians we know or have known were and are not very good with imaginations.

They hate dealing in worst case scenarios or thinking bad thoughts of the future. The flip side of that is they aren’t very good at thinking of good things either. Doing nothing, or copying somebody else, is normal business.

“Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.”

Easy to say, but we might see soon, it was just really, really too hard to do. So, we are also hoping for the best.

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