The latest round of the governor’s orders came out just before Thanksgiving. They go farther than before—and a lot of Vermonters would probably mumble that the rules were already really strict, especially when compared with other states.
College students arriving back home to their families are supposed to quarantine for fourteen days, he said, or else they can quarantine for seven and follow it with a COVID test. No one should host multi-household gatherings, although two people from separate homes can get together outside for exercise. Masks must be worn, however. Of course, if you can work from home, that’s expected as well (although truly, that’s what most people have been doing since March anyway, if it is possible).
Actually, the order is very clearly written today:
“Do not get together or socialize with anyone you don’t live with.”
The part of the order that really has people talking is the final piece: school districts are within their rights to ask students how they are complying with the order. The governor left it up to the individual school districts how to ask, or if they want to ask their students. As you might imagine, some places have chosen to just not ask. Other schools closed pre-emptively.
In our town, the school decided to add the question into their normal screening process as kids come into the building for their one day of in-person instruction each week (two days for the younger kids).
Let your mind play out these scenarios:
If student answers that a college sibling–who is likely tested once or twice weekly–came home to his family for the week of Thanksgiving, and the sibling was not locked away in quarantine from that same family for the entire week he was home… the student is to go remote.
If a student noticed that his mother walked the dog with more than the one permitted friend–even with masks, social distancing and staying outside… the student should answer honestly and go remote.
If a student has a sibling who meets up with some of his friends, the rules are broken… and the student is to go remote.
After just a bit of thought on this one, I discussed the situation with my daughter. Luckily we agreed: it’s just easier for her to go remote than become the family’s COVID taskmaster. She doesn’t really mind, she says. “It’s only one day anyway. And I don’t want to make anyone sick if somehow I’ve been exposed.”
The vaccine can’t come soon enough at this point, folks.
Where is the good in all this? That’s a good question. I’ve struggled to find it all day, as I watch my daughter not really know what to do for her classes today. The teachers told her to talk to the principal and counselor—who answered at the same time, telling her to talk with her teachers. It’s not particularly clear how this works.
Our family has been forced into really clear, honest communication about how each person’s actions play out onto all the rest. We have looked at how what seems “right and fair” to one means someone else loses out. We have acknowledged the realities of the limitations of science, the role politics plays, the age that children are truly considered adults. We noted how impossible this is to enforce in any way.
We talked a lot about what freedom means and what personal responsibility is.
You might also be waiting to hear that we all reached some huge agreement.
We did not. And I don’t think we are going to—except that we have agreed to disagree and remain peaceably living all together in the same home. Disagreement, personal opinions, doubts of those with power… it’s all part of the process of becoming an adult.
Remembering that lack of agreement doesn’t mean a lack of love for each other… that’s a silver lining that I’ll hang onto for right now.