Teachers our Covid-19 warriors!

KWAME MOABI

IT’S SAFE to say that at the start of the pandemic in 2020, nobody thought much of this unswerving virus. In fact, most were unsuspecting of this undercover infectious ‘CIA agent’. Instead, everyone was overjoyed at the idea of an unexpected two-week holiday, of waking up to the beautiful autumn days of no school and no work. It was the first time in years that many families had bonded for so long because for the first time ever Dad couldn’t make a lousy work-trip excuse as to why he couldn’t spend time with me, and Mom couldn’t miss my hockey match because of a ‘very important meeting’.  Now we were all home together.  Most homes were filled with loving chatter and humorous challenges.

Unfortunately, in a matter of a heartbeat, things changed. Reality checks started coming in quickly. At this point, the fun and games were over. Parents, elders, teenagers, and even little ones had their eyes and ears glued to the news channels. It became religious to stare at the TV for ungodly hours at a time. The TV was stuck on Channel 403. It almost became our daily supplement, to watch the news on Covid-19 hourly updates. Soon WhatsApp users themselves began anchoring their very own news channels, with their statuses the agenda for discussions and notifications at the next family meeting. Facebook and Instagram were no match to the quality content friends and family were sharing. Lovely clips of families enjoying and making the most of their quarantine trended all over the internet. Various fun challenges and inspiring one-minute motivational videos became worldwide trendsetters. But of course … the fun didn’t last long.

Covid-19 cases began rapidly increasing day by day and are still at even higher rates. Family meetings hosted by ‘Oom Cyril’, a silly nickname that the youngsters gave the president of the country, became prominent but soon began feeling like an unpleasant chore because of how frequent they were.

As Covid-19 became no stranger to our streets, our lives changed forever, but it wasn’t until the virus hit home that it really sank in. Covid-19 roamed our corridors and lingered freely through our classrooms and unfortunately, it managed to land in the laps of our own students and teachers.

Mrs Imelita van der Berg and her husband, Juan, nearly came face to face with death, when both of them were seriously affected by the virus. Mrs Van der Berg’s brother-in-law sadly passed away from Covid-19 whilst she and her husband were in insolation. The St Michael’s community’s sincerest condolences go out to the family.

Mesdames Amanda Forster, Natasha Slabbert, Hilda Faber, Liz Venter, Lee-Ann Thompson, Dimmie Kleovoulou, Tarryn Edworthy and Alta du Toit, as well as Messrs Mark Muller, Francois Saayman, Henry van Coller and Giel Duvenhage, to name only a few staff members, tested positive for the virus. It’s not until it hits home that you realise the severity of this virus and why everyone is fussing over it. It’s because it affects real people and it doesn’t play around!

Teachers feared for their lives and most experienced symptoms like loss of taste and smell, high fever, and extreme exhaustion.  Mrs Faber tested positive twice for the virus – the first time around she didn’t have any symptoms! Thankfully they have all been spared –  indeed they are all survivors!

On Wednesday 25 June, after waiting in the sun for hours, teachers and support staff eventually received their Covid-19  vaccines at the University of the Free State.  Vaccination will definitely give teachers,  learners, and their families more peace of mind. However, Covid-19  still lingers and now, more than ever, it’s urgent that we comply with the laws set in place to protect all of us. This, unfortunately, is the new norm and it will be for a while longer.