With the feeling of Fall in the air, and Labour Day rolling by, summer is coming to an end. Students are heading back to school, businesses are returning to a new normal, and the medical system is preparing for the upcoming influenza season in the middle of a pandemic.
Firstly, we would like to thank you and congratulate everyone on their efforts over the last six months during the COVID-19 pandemic. Without the community’s support of maintaining physical distancing, hand washing and limiting interactions to essentials, the case numbers in our community would have been much higher. Although it has been a long trying time, the struggle is not over. Over the last four weeks, the case numbers in BC and Northern Health have been steadily increasing.
The rising case numbers mean that we must continue to be as vigilant as we were in the past. It means shopping smartly, postponing large gatherings and functions, continuing to maintain physical distances, washing our hands and wearing masks when you know you are going to be in contact with many people. These should be the ongoing protocol in our daily lives.
This school year is shaping up to be nothing like any of us have experienced before. Students and families that are choosing to return are looking at a system of new rules to better protect our children, teachers and families.
For families that are choosing to learn from home, it means another long haul of potential isolation and change.
For many students, this return will mean wearing a mask or choosing to wear a mask even if not mandated. It is a pause in sharing snacks, giving hugs and indoor gatherings within the school. The learning of our children is our future and it is important for them to return in a safe manner in order to keep schools open. The plans in each school are for the safety of the children and the teachers, as well as ensuring that learning continues.
The return of schools means that as of this week our family “bubbles” will have drastically increased from a handful of people, to dozens of people, and few degrees of separation between those. The potential for COVID-19 to quickly spread is possible. However, it’s spread is something we can contain, if we follow guidelines.
This may mean declining gatherings outside of school or limiting them to families that are a part of your school cohort. It means staying home and keeping your children home if they are sick. And, as always, washing our hands, maintaining physical distancing and wearing a mask when physical distancing is not possible, or if you will be in contact with others for a prolonged period. These are some of the key criteria that have led to successfully combating the disease thus far.
The studies have consistently shown that wearing a mask, including non-medical masks, decreases the spread of COVID-19, and if everyone is wearing a mask, the risk of spread is very low. It has been noted that more and more people in the community are wearing masks while in public. Thank you.
Wearing a mask is not an easy thing at first. It can be uncomfortable, cause your ears to hurt, cause your glasses to fog and it can feel quite foreign. Believe us, we know. Also, believe us that it gets easier and you quickly get use to having it on. Like anything new, this takes practice. So please start wearing your mask when indoors and physical distancing is not possible.
We understand that the last six months have been a challenge. However, this fight to control COVID-19 is not over. With the steadily high case numbers presenting daily in this province and the rest of Canada, it is now more important than ever to not be reckless with your own safety or the safety of others.
This virus has demonstrated time and again how one person’s actions can affect countless others. We should also expect to see more restrictions being enforced again, temporarily, until the province regains control over the cases again. Be smart about your own activities, be respectful to yourself and others regarding safety, and keep up with the ongoing efforts to slow the spread of COVID 19.
Dr Kate Niethammer
Dr Justin Flynn
Dr Darren Jakubec