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The Bar Bulletin
Jax Daily Record Thursday, Jun. 3, 202104:00 AM EST

Commentary: A son’s safety: What’s a mother to do?

Preparing a child for college amid the COVID-19 pandemic has its challenges.
Raelyn Covington

By Raelyn Covington • Lakeside Nursing and Rehabilitation

Before the coronavirus pandemic, thoughts often occupied my mind concerning my son’s eventual departure for college. 

Like most parents with college-bound children, I was looking forward to myself and my son navigating the various paths we would need to take to enroll him into a college or university.

The application process, the campus visits and anything else that would be thrown our way regarding him attending college, we were ready to deal with, or so I thought.

Unfortunately, on Jan. 19, 2020, in Snohomish County, Washington, a man walked into an urgent care clinic suffering from what would turn out to be the first recorded case of COVID-19 in the U.S.

That man’s unfortunate illness resulted in overwhelming caution and reassessment of all college-related paths that my son and I once considered.

Navigating the path to ensure my son is enrolled safely into college considering the COVID-19 pandemic is stressful as a mother, an attorney and a concerned health care worker.

Being coupled with the fact that he is in remission from cancer and has a compromised immune system, we have taken every precautionary measure to ensure that we are handling our new challenge during these unprecedented times. 

Knowing that my son soon will be leaving for college amid COVID-19 has been and continues to be somewhat stressful. As a parent who works in health care, I am constantly exposed to a coronavirus environment.

I emphasize to my son that his safety will be his responsibility on campus. For instance, the importance of washing hands, wearing a face mask, maintaining the cleanliness of his living area and social distancing are things he must take seriously.

While my son looks forward to the college experience, my concern is whether the colleges or universities that are of interest take the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and its list of recommendations concerning COVID-19 seriously. 

To help keep as many stress-related issues away from my son regarding college to allow him to focus more on traditional college student concerns, I have researched various schools’ adherence to the protocols and recommendations for prevention as outlined by the CDC and its on-campus prioritization of what it is doing to maintain student health during this pandemic.

It is my expectation that his college of choice will continue to educate, expect and encourage all students to follow the rules to protect themselves and others. 

Navigating and preparing my son for college has proved to be the challenge that I expected.

However, researching the COVID- 19 policies and procedures for colleges and universities, from how daily monitoring is done to determining what quarantine measures are available on campus, was not anticipated. Now that I have this understanding it has helped to put my mind at ease as he enters college.

Raelyn Covington is the director of rehabilitation at Lakeside Nursing and Rehabilitation. She also is a licensed attorney and active with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. 

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