Faith and Family

School in the Age of COVID-19 and Gun Violence

Three kids smiling at Texas Sacred Heart Catholic School

SHORTLY AFTER MOST PARENTS breathed a collective sigh of relief due to the waning concerns of COVID-19 and the numerous challenges it caused with schooling for nearly two years, they were faced with another frightening situation. Every parent’s worst nightmare played out in the horrific massacre of the children and teachers in the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, this past June. 

Seeing the surviving children run out of the school after being held captive by a gunman and hearing the anguished cries of parents in the parking lot who were powerless to help was beyond gut-wrenching. As the story unfolded and we learned more details—many rather gruesome—it only got worse, due to reports of things such as missed security measures and a delayed response from the police force. 

Sadly, and almost unbelievably, we all know gun violence is not a new or even isolated problem in the United States. Instead of banding together to try to solve the issue, it’s only further divided Americans, much like the best approach to COVID-19 did. 

When COVID-19 burst into society and disrupted our way of living, my husband and I made the tough and personal decision to homeschool our elementary-aged kids for a year. Not unlike most parents, we agonized about what to do, analyzed risk versus benefit for our family, and often second-guessed our final decision. 

When our kids finally began in-person learning at their Catholic school for the 2021–22 school year, I felt (mostly) good about our decision, as my high-risk husband and I were able to be vaccinated by that point. Over the course of the school year, I saw my kids blossom both academically and spiritually. It made the sacrifice to send our kids to Catholic school worth it. I listened to my kids sing church songs with their peers, further affirming our decision for Catholic school and the community it provides. 

And then Uvalde thrust me back into a realm of worry, concern, and anxiety, once again weighing if the risks are worth the benefits. How are parents supposed to feel good about sending their kids to school? Are we doing enough to protect our children? 

We pray the St. Michael prayer as a family often. I bless my kids with holy water. Every night I pray that God will protect our family, but are we doing enough, or the right thing? God gave us our brains and intellect to solve earthly problems, and, at some point, prayer should prompt action as we work to build the kingdom of God. 

In the meantime, until effective measures are implemented, I pray the world adopts the lessons of peace and nonviolence that both Jesus and St. Francis of Assisi preached. 

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