Heading into fall

Usually the leap from summer into fall is a welcome transition. Warm sunny days and cool nights are better than humid afternoons and sultry evenings.

The harvests continue in earnest as farmers switch from cereals to beans. Gardens finishing up sweet corn and tomatoes head into squashes and root crops. It is usually a favourite season for me, but this year it feels a bit like we are falling into autumn.

It just doesn’t feel right.

For one thing, the fall fairs have all been cancelled. No more show calves, no more produce and no more chances for kids to show off some crafts and school work at the local fair. Sounds of the truck pulls won’t meander down the valley to our farm 20km away this year. Even the smells of a fall fair would be a treat – cotton candy, peameal on a bun or some poutine.

Perhaps when these events roll around again next year people will appreciate them a little more.

For another point, students are heading back to classes without the ordinary fanfare. Staggered start dates, missing friends whose parents opted for home schooling, anxious educators, concerned support staff and bus drivers – this isn’t a fun time for anyone.

My editor actually joked on deadline day it was time for my annual back-to-school column encouraging drivers to be extra cautious and for kids to enjoy their year. While we still believe all of those things – that drivers need to be cautious and kids should have fun – the pressures this year are astounding, making that standby column topic a non-starter since this is anything but a normal year.

It will be up to parents and friends to support teachers the best we can. This fall, kids must listen like they never have before. If a teacher or support person directs certain safety measures, students must respond accordingly.

At minimum it will take a month of class before good habits are made. Wearing masks, washing hands correctly and sanitizing after coming into contact with germy surfaces, are things we need to support at home and instruct kids to perform without fail at school.

These are not debatable items and will form part of the foreseeable future for education. If this return to school is to work, we need to all support each other – students, parents, teachers and education workers.

Few may recall it was so long ago, but as March Break let out Premier Doug Ford offered up best wishes to parents for an enjoyable holiday. That attitude has sure changed in recent months as participants at weddings and outdoor parties were chastised by him this past long weekend for engaging in activities that could well drive up the number of positive cases.

Positive cases have slowly but surely climbed back into a zone of concern. Bubbles have not been maintained and social distancing has relaxed.

As we head into a cooler season and outdoor options dwindle, the public needs to adopt a far more regimented adherence to the rules that pulled us out of the initial shutdown.

If not, tough times will return and arguably be far worse than round one.

COVID-19 is still here and the danger exists until some form of vaccine or treatment is available to all. Let’s stay smart and be as safe as we can.