Kalpana - Looks like the schools are opening in June. The news came totally out of the blue, since we were all assuming they would wait until September, but there it is. They want to open their doors to children just for one month, but maintaining social distancing parameters.
Charo - Yes. We have seen videos of the reopening of schools in France, with lines painted on the ground to indicate children where to stand in line, or a square allocated to them to play on their own in the playground. If you haven’t seen these videos, look for them on YouTube. They are a blood-curdling advance of what our children’s education might become in the coming months, maybe years — if we don’t do anything, that is.
Kalpana - The first thing that comes to mind is what are they contemplating to do with the children who can’t stay within the lines? For those children who are especially rambunctious or who have particular difficulties following directions, will they still have a place in this scary new school system, or will they be kicked out “for the greater good”, so that they don’t spread the pandemic? A school system needs to be available to all kids, not just the ones that will stick within the lines without a peep.
Charo - For me, as a parent, I don’t pay a school system to transform my children into robots that follow the lines and unquestioningly obey regulations, and have them stay locked within a painted or imaginary square on the floor. I pay the Canadian education system to teach my children to think as free human beings. I want them to learn philosophy, science, poetry. I want them to learn to care for the world, to create a better world, not to fear their classmates or viruses. If the schools can’t accomplish that, maybe they should not open their doors at all.
Kalpana - As far as Fort St. John, Stay Still Until We Say So rules are not in action, but it has been implemented in some parts of the world, and we cannot be bystanders. This is alarming. The education system is not only meant to provide academics; they are meant to be a safe haven for children, the place where they gain not only education, but also friendship, tolerance, failure, success, relationships, become a role model or be inspired by role models, learn to co-operate and more. It is the foundation for each individual. Let’s say No if this is going to be a "new normal."
Charo - If there is to be a “new normal” for our children, we want it to be a better normal, where we collaborate to create a better, more sustainable, solidary, and fair world for everyone. A normal that inspires us to become better, more connected human beings, not a “new normal” of distrust, separation, blind obedience, restrictions, and lines painted on the floor. The only thing I want painted on school floors are flowers and dragons. Online teaching is more dignified to my children than standing on yellow lines and moving upon a cue.
Kalpana - As parents, we all have more say in this situation than anyone. Exercise your right to decide. Don’t just accept anything quietly.
Charo - If someone has to reset the world, let it be us.
Charo Lloret is from Spain; Kalpana Loganathan is from India. They reflect on their experiences immigrating to Fort St. John.