Saturday 6 November 2021

Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Nine

Almost our ninetieth day here in Salluit. 

Things continue to be unusual and require a lot of on-the-fly adjustments.

I have only taught twenty-one days since I have been here - much less than I expected and wondering when it will get back to a normal Monday-Friday, 07:30-17:00 life.

Right now we are closed because of a recent outbreak of COVID in the community. As of the time of this writing we are over 200 cases accumulative, with just under 50 recovered. The entire district has had their fair share of infections - this is very, very real.

We closed the school on 20 October and I have been volunteering at the testing clinic the local nurses’ clinic/health board set up at our school ever since. I did miss one day, simply not feeling up to it; otherwise I have been there. The Red Cross is in now and with their assistance they have set up a vaccination clinic. Additionally we have people flying in from the South assisting with contacting people to come in and get tested or get their vaccine. My colleagues and I who have been working at the testing clinic and the other agencies have all been making a real effort to get this thing back in control. 

The saddest part is the number of people who come to get tested, saying “I was told to come” versus the others who come on their own. It is about a 50-50 split, but it does make you wonder why people don’t feel compelled to come in. It is frustrating to witness but it will not stop me from volunteering. 

There is some fear in some eyes. There is some foolish bravery in others (“what me worry?”). There are those who walk by our home every day not wearing a mask. There are young (oh so young) mothers wondering if their babies can be tested (yes is the answer - the youngest we have done was one month old!). There’s a grandma who comes every day simply because we are warm and friendly and a safe place. There’s five people flown out who required emergency medical care that a nurses’ station couldn’t provide. There is a very real sense that when someone dies then everyone will wake up. I truly hope that will not be the case; I hope everyone will find the will and courage to stand up and do the right thing.

Like I mentioned, I have barely taught. At a minimum the school will remain closed until early January. All of my colleagues, except we vagabonds who have no home outside of Salluit, will be flying out on Monday. I will miss them as much as I miss my students: there is a sense that a bond is still there, but tenuous and thin, at best. That just makes me sad. I hope they will stay safe, I hope they will travel well and be with their loved ones during the holidays, I hope they will come back soon.

In that light: all blessings to them, continued safe passage on their journeys. Regardless of what they believe in and where they will be, it is my sincerest hope they will be surrounded by the ones they love.

That, of course, goes for everyone - all our love to you and yours. <3

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Teaching at Minus Fifty - Part Seventeen

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