Home Columns Alex Has Opinions: School and COVID-19 in the Whitewater Region

Alex Has Opinions: School and COVID-19 in the Whitewater Region


Alexander Leach, Editor

School has begun, and it’s already a disaster.

Fellowes High School has already been closed, with one of its teachers testing positive for Coronavirus. We weren’t even two weeks in. Westmeath got hit next, with the Catholic school hit with a case. And recently? Eganville had a case.
[See Page 2 for the Eganville press release]

And really, it was inevitable.

We’ve all had to make sacrifices across Whitewater Region. And while our region has been mercifully safe from the spread (one of the many benefits of a rural, wilderness region), the return to school throws a whole new, dangerous vector for the disease to spread.

Even with social distancing, masks, and hand sanitizer, we do not have a vaccine. We might not have one for years, possibly as late as 2024. We have no immunity, and the symptoms can be subtle enough to go completely undetected among the less vulnerable of us. Especially kids and teens.

I understand that children’s educations and social lives derailed is a problem, especially with how bad the economy’s been for the last decade. But COVID-19 has the potential to kill everyone in a family – it leads to long-term health issues, and has killed even the youngest victims.

Whitewater Region has handled this pandemic well, but this pandemic demonstrates how easily one person can disrupt or destroy any plan to prevent the spread. The US is full of examples of states where populations and governments refuse to adhere guidelines and the country having the largest death-toll in the world is no coincidental thing.

The RC VTAC has helped, as a letter in a previous issue said. And while our cases are a mere drop in the bucket compared to Ottawa, it’s due to the region’s diligence as well as our sparse population.

Going from Pembroke to Cobden is striking for me. People on Cobden’s streets wear masks while walking in groups or alone, and those that don’t keep a distance from everyone. In Pembroke, I barely see masks outside of the stores that require them.

I also see protestors claiming COVID-19 is a conspiracy outside the City Hall in Pembroke, and haven’t yet seen the Whitewater Region Council’s Youtube stream chat filled with random messages claiming the disease is a scam, but I’m not naive enough to think that such blatant falsehoods aren’t tossed around everywhere. Such misinformation is always there, and when we’re trying to reclaim some bit of normalcy, we have to be vigilant against it.

School was a mistake. But we’ve made it, and like forgetting to wash your hands before you leave, you do the best you can make up for it. Kids need to know and follow the safety guidelines, because they can’t rely on adults to uphold them [and in fact should be quite critical of adults at all times, which doesn’t mean disobedient or rebellious. Just observant of their parents’ methods and possible flaws].