A New Year Begins – Along With Some Anxiety

Autumn in Victoria, BC

September is such a magical time of the year.

Autumn is the season of cooler weather, crisp leaves on the ground and corn on the cob — all worth looking forward to for sure. But, for me and others in public education, September is also our New Year. It’s a time of starting again, the excitement of seeing the kids back in classrooms, maybe some fun new equipment in the school and the optimism of tackling new challenges with some energy in one’s personal tank.

It’s really a great time of year.

As I enter my 34th year in public education that excitement is still there — freshly polished floors, big ideas on our learning agenda and a bunch of exciting new projects to tackle.

Yet, similar to last fall there is still a feeling of anxiety amongst many in our community. COVID continues to provide a significant distraction for many and a challenge for us as we focus on teaching and learning.

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We’re Going to be OK

I have never experienced anything remotely similar to this pandemic in my lifetime. When I look back in time I can find The Spanish Flu epidemic from 1918-1920. It was devasting in Canada and around the world. In our country an estimated 55,000 people died — most of them between the ages of 20-40. Interestingly, coming out of WW1 Canada lost a little more than 60,000 soldiers (1914-1918).

But, there isn’t anything more recent that resembles the world-wide pandemic we are currently living within.

Military hospital at Naden (Esquimalt, BC), c. 1919. Courtesy City of Victoria Archives

Why was the Spanish Flu so devastating? Several reasons have been mentioned (such as a lack of suitable drugs and communication), but the most significant cause was a lack of adequate quarantine measures. We also didn’t have very good coordination between the various health authorities across the country.