The Worst It’s Ever Been

A week ago, two weeks ago, I started feeling vaccine FOMO. All of my US teacher friends were posting and sharing vaccine selfies. It was a new kind of social media envy, different from the regular vacation and foodie jealousy.

But still, I was hopeful. Teachers will be vaccinated after we finish with everyone 60+. We are ticking down, with those 74+ scheduled for March 15. I felt that it would be our turn by May.

But then came the news 2 weeks ago that we were going into the red phase, the most restrictive. But schools remained open at 35%.

Last week came the news that 3 families in Everett’s class are Covid positive. His whole class was shut down for 2 weeks. Matilda had secondary exposure after playing with a friend. And early this week, the news got bleaker and bleaker. Our deaths were rising higher than they ever had. We crested 2,000 a day. That is the second highest total. Only the US beat us.

Despite having vaccinated some of the elder population, things were getting worse by the day. By Wednesday, we were at 2,200 deaths a day. Then 2,400.

Then the news that 50% of ICUs are at 100% capacity. The newspapers were sharing a count of how many people died while waiting for a hospital bed.

Sao Paulo state is the epicenter of this explosion. The governor of our state gave a press conference on Wednesday, but no changes were announced. He held another press conference on Thursday where he announced that we had created a new phase: purple. Worse than red. Churches and soccer were closed. (The fact that they were still open is almost stereotypically Brazilian. God and soccer are high priorities.) State schools were going to close and only allow students who depend on their school for food to come into the buildings.

But that is the whole state. What about our city? We had to wait until today. The mayor decided to close all schools for 3 weeks. Distance learning until April 6, unless the shut down is extended.

It was exactly 52 weeks ago that Graded closed for the first time (March 13, which was a Friday last year.) Brazilian schools closed the following week. And here we, doing it again. Last time, the shutdown of schools lasted from March to October. And then it was only for “review” or “remediation,” We didn’t teach new content in person until February. How long will this shut down be for?

And I’m so mad that we stayed closed in August and September when our cases and deaths were so much lower. We could and should have opened in those better conditions. Now, it is completely justified and necessary that we close. But can I trust that they will reopen schools when things have improved and are safe again? That remains to be seen.

I am very, very afraid. On Wednesday night, I realized that the virus has creeped very close to us, closer than it has ever been. And now that it’s closer, if one of us gets it and needs a hospital, that will not be possible. That’s a really scary thought. (And yes, I thought through the idea of trying to fly to the US. They wouldn’t let a Covid positive person on the plane. There’s no rescue.)

I’m thinking about things this week that I haven’t thought about. Yet again, this pandemic has pushed me into fresh anxiety and stress. New scenarios I’ve never considered. Right as many, many places in the world are getting better and better, we are at our worst.

And there’s a sense that the restrictions aren’t being enforced. The poor point out that the Governor of our state’s kids through a party and the rich point out the parties happening in the favelas, or slums. They are both the problem and it doesn’t seem that the police are enforcing or fining the violators. Many are frustrated and angry.

I don’t know what comes next. I was supposed to be on campus next week, so was Matilda. Our school has given us permission to take leave to fly to our home countries and get vaccinated. But we’d have to pay to for the flights. And in the case of most vaccines, that’s two round trips. With the whole family, that’s impossible. But maybe one parent at a time, and with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, is that a possibility now? I don’t know. I don’t know anything. So much is out of our control.

Everything sucks. That’s not very poetic, but it’s the truth.

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