I spent the weekend saying goodbye to my parents — for a month or so anyway.

Opinion

I spent the weekend saying goodbye to my parents — for a month or so anyway.

It’s especially sad because it’s my dad’s 72nd birthday next week.

That’s how I accepted that my daughter will get COVID-19.

She starts in-person school Monday, where she’ll be exposed more than ever to the virus.

Like most parents, I’ve spent almost two years trying to shield her from the coronavirus, but this week I expect her to get it.

At least it’s predictable, thanks to Premier Heather Stefanson.

"It’s up to Manitobans to look after themselves," Stefanson told reporters Wednesday. "We must learn to live with this virus."

The problem with this argument is that many Manitobans will not live with COVID-19 — in fact, 1,443 of our relatives have died so far.

The majority, of course, are seniors. Of the 14 deaths on Thursday and Friday last week, one was over the age of 50 and the rest were 60 years old and older.

It doesn’t matter what measures schools took during their one–week “phased opening.” Schools can’t fix issues of ventilation, cramped buildings, and kids eating in hallways, cafeterias and gyms in a week.

In other words, my parents.

The past few months though has seen more and more young people infected and hospitalized. Luckily — and I use this word intentionally — most recover quickly.

Anyone who knows someone with COVID-19 though knows that it’s not just the sickness itself but the way the virus affects one’s breathing, heart, and circulation in the long term.

I caught the Omicron variant weeks ago and have a slight cough and trouble breathing.

If you’re in poverty, First Nations, or health compromised, you are more affected by the coronavirus, too.

With the opening of schools, it’s not a question of if, but when my daughter will get the virus.

It doesn’t matter what measures schools took during their one-week "phased opening." Schools can’t fix issues of ventilation, cramped buildings, and kids eating in hallways, cafeterias and gyms in a week.

My daughter is smart but the Omicron variant is relentless, unconcerned about who you are, and is spreading fast and effectively. This is not the fault of vaccines or science but simply proof that life finds a way.

This week my daughter and I talked — and planned — for the fact she is likely going to be infected.

That was a hard conversation.

The cost of this decision is likely a month, maybe more, of not seeing your loved ones. That and watching children, teachers, and administrators take turns rolling the dice with COVID–19.

Best case scenario, she’s asymptomic or gets slightly sick. She watched me go through it and knows it’s likely manageable because she is double-vaccinated and in good health.

Worst case scenario is unfathomable.

Truthfully, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I can only hope.

Speaking of hope, it’s been disheartening to watch the Manitoba government give up the fight against COVID-19.

This past week has seen a widescale collapse of will to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

Manitobans have all watched over recent weeks as testing and reporting has basically fallen apart. This week though has featured news of mask shortages, a lack of rapid tests, and the devastating effects of the last-second remote learning announcement on teachers, students, and parents.

Then came news that more than half of Manitoba’s children aged five to eleven have not had one vaccine dose. I can’t imagine being a parent of one of those children right now.

On Wednesday, Stefanson then announced that she is "taking advice from public health, but we’ll be taking advice from other Manitobans going forward."

In case you don’t know who she means by "other Manitobans," it’s those who want casinos, bars, and other non-essential services left open. You know, those places spreading Omicron like wildfire for over a month.

I’m not against those businesses, by the way, but I pick children and parents over drinking and gambling.

Those "other Manitobans" and some parents — I get it, remote learning is hard — want schools open.

So, here we are.

The cost of this decision is likely a month, maybe more, of not seeing your loved ones. That and watching children, teachers, and administrators take turns rolling the dice with COVID-19.

There’s that luck again.

Parents won’t be immune of course. In Quebec, the provincial government has asked parents to be prepared to be "parent supervisors" when an expected widescale shortage of teachers occurs.

One contingency plan suggests teachers could instruct from home while parent volunteers supervise students in classrooms.

Think online learning with your own child in a living room was hard? Try that.

The Manitoba government has adopted the "everyone will get it so there’s no point in stopping it" approach. The problem is they are experimenting with Manitoba’s more vulnerable populations.

The apathy is overwhelming.

At least with Brian Pallister, citizens got tears once in a while and a wagging finger telling us all to stay home.

With Heather Stefanson, Manitobans are told it’s every person for themselves and we all must live with a virus that can kill our loved ones.

There’s no luck in that.

niigaan.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Niigaan Sinclair

Niigaan Sinclair
Columnist

Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe and is a columnist at the Winnipeg Free Press.