We aren’t tone deaf at the Toronto Injury Lawyer Blog.
Back to School is around the corner. But Back to School 2021 in the midst of a looming 4th wave during the Global Pandemic brings a new unprecedented set of worries and anxieties for parents, teachers and students. The large boogey man in the room is the COVID-19 Delta variant which is more transmissible than it’s predecessors.
Children under the age of 11 aren’t vaccinated; so what do you do?
You can keep the kids at home and continue with online learning at the risk of isolating kids, hurting not only their education but also their mental health.
Or, you can send the kids back to school and hope for the best.
Whatever option you select is your decision to make. Nobody can tell you that it’s right, or wrong. These are unprecedented times which we aren’t accustomed to. No matter how much we try to tell ourselves that “this is the new normal“; there’s certainly nothing normal about it.
Now that the COVID-19 Delta variant is out of the way, we can talk about what to expect the first day after Labour Day once schools open up.
For starters you will see an increase in pedestrian, bike and vehicle traffic on the roads. More cars, more buses, more mini vans, more people taking kids to and from school. This means we all need to be a little bit more careful getting to where we need to go. That stands for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists alike.
One of the most disturbing trends we have seen over the summer since COVID-19 restrictions have loosed in Ontario is that people have forgotten how to interact and share public spaces with other people.
We have all been pent up in our homes under lock down, told not to work and told what we can and cannot do in the name of public safety during the Pandemic. It has been difficult on everyone regardless of race, class, age, gender or religion. Some have followed the rules more diligently than others. But, the general trend we have seen is that people are generally more “pissed off“; easily irritable, hot tempered and some in fact are looking to start a confrontation (either physical or verbal). Our law firm has seen an increase in calls for general assault cases over the Pandemic; and we think it’s for these reasons from the Pandemic.
We expect this trend to continue on our roads.
This is significant because it’s our kids who walk or bike to school every day. They will have to deal with some generally mad at the world and aggressive motorists. Not every motorist is bad. But the Pandemic has brought out the worst in people which we have seen on full display in recent months.
This trend is also significant for working parents who may commute to/from work every day. Expect more vehicles to be on the road after Labour Day adding to traffic and congestion. This will increase your commute time; so plan ahead and give yourself a bit more time in the morning (if you can) to get to where you need to be. Often this involves multiple stops (coffee, school drop off, breakfast, work, or in a different order).
Here are some quick tips on what you and your children can do to stay safe this back to school season:
- Don’t let rushing to get to your destination compromise your safety. Late 5 minutes? It’s ok to hurry, but not at the expense of your safety. It’s better to arrive 5 minutes or so late rather than into an accident because you weren’t paying proper to your surroundings or taking risks you otherwise wouldn’t ordinarily take. Parents: remember it’s not just your safety your compromising. It’s that of your kids and others who you share the road with. It’s not always all about you.
- Motorists be extra cautious of children walking and biking to and from school. They’re going to out there in full force (for the time being) so be extra careful because you know they will be excited.
- School Zone Signs aren’t meant for decoration. They mean something. Slow down in the School Zone because school is in session and they will be in the area doing what they do. Expect the unexpected in a School Zone.
- Treat stop signs on the arms of buses the same you would as stop signs on the street. Stop for them! The fines for running a stop sign on a bus arm are greater than those for running a normal stop sign. Be extra mindful of these stop signs because children depend on them for their safe crossing in front of a school bus.
- Are your kids riding or scooting to school? If so, invest in a helmet. Bonus points if the helmet is brightly coloured so that everyone can see it! Helmets are life savers for everyone; particularly on kids for their school commutes.
- Phone and I-Pad screens are a distraction during your commute! This goes for kids walking to school, or for parents driving (or walking their kids). Take your eyes off your screens and pay attention to your surroundings. You never know what another driver is going to do. You won’t be able to react or you will. Older children or teens who have just been given a new phone to use likely won’t be able to take their eyes away from it. It’s important to teach your children that there’s a time and a place for looking at their screens. The morning commute should not be one of those times. That’s a time to be mindful of their surroundings and present; because you never know what hazards might pop up. Texting while driving and texting while walking aren’t a good pairing.
- Buddy system! The buddy system to walk or bike to school is never a bad idea. Stranger danger? Anxious about walking to school alone? Buddy system! If it’s good enough for the swimming pool at camp, it’s good enough for a walk to or from school.