Most people are surprised to hear that my school in West Africa has been in person since the beginning of the school year last August. This meant temperature checks, wearing masks all day, social distancing, limiting the number of students allowed in my office, hand washing stations, hand sanitizer at the door of every classroom and students cleaning off their desks at the end of each class. This was difficult to deal with initially but after a while it became a part of my routine. However since we have been back from the Christmas holiday there has been spikes in the community and at school because outside of the school many people aren’t wearing masks, and people are going out and meeting up. The biggest transition for me is that I don’t go out much except to the grocery store over the weekend because I don’t want to put myself at unnecessary risk.
January brought some positive cases and exposure by some of our students due to parental positive cases. Then during the last week of February two more students in grade 12 tested positive as a result of contact with the first grade 12 positive cases. So the entire grade and their siblings were told to stay home and get tested before returning to school on March 1st. Teachers were given the option to get tested and return after they got a negative test. However on March 1st we found out that another student in grade 12 tested positive and this time his friends in grade 11 were sent home and asked to be tested. A couple of days later his sister tested positive and her friends in grade 11 were asked to stay home and get tested. A couple of days later two more students in grade 11 tested positive and now grade 11 is closed and all students are being asked to get tested before they return to school after March 15th.
On March 5th I decided to get tested for covid and although it wasn’t the first time because I have been tested to travel it was the most stressful. Some of the teachers with me had been tested the week before because they also taught grade 12. My test came back negative because I follow the procedures and the only time I don’t have my mask on is when I am eating lunch or in my office alone but I was stressed.
Last week the AstraZeneca vaccine became available here and teachers were offered access to it. Some teachers at my school elected to get vaccinated and some have not. There is a sense that the admin wants as many of us to get vaccinated as possible without consideration for how people feel about it. It makes me wonder if eventually international schools will begin to mandate vaccines. I believe that getting vaccinated is an individual choice and I hope that schools will not perpetuate an us vs them atmosphere.
I got vaccinated on Monday, it took 4 hours because it was the first day that the vaccine was being offered to the public and so many people showed up. The prick hurt more than I expected and by dinner time I was feeling horrible. My arm felt heavy and was hurting; my entire body was aching and I had a mild headache. Because I was in so much pain I didn’t sleep well that night and on Tuesday I was feeling even worse. I left work early, took a nap and proceeded to fill my body with echinacea, cbd oil, vitamin C, garlic pills and ginger tea and went to bed early. Thankfully when I got up on Wednesday I felt better. I’m hoping that the next vaccine in April won’t be so hard on my body.
As we mark the one year anniversary of the first time I heard the term coronavirus I’m feeling the fatigue of the moment we are living in. I miss my carefree life, going out to eat and I hope that this vaccine will allow for some ease on summer restrictions and travel. But only time will tell what changes will come about because of the vaccine. #BlackExpat #myexpatlife #imisstravelingfreely #feelinghopeful