A family sacrifice to stay home for a year to ‘protect as many people as possible’

For more than a year, most Canadians have been following COVID-19 health restrictions — and they’re tired.

One Alberta family is urging everyone to stay the course.

The Barrs said they made the difficult decision to keep their children home this school year, in order to protect everyone else.

Cameron Barr is a physician and works with COVID-positive homeless patients and exposure is a risk.

Read more: COVID-19: How the Edmonton Isolation Facility provided care to most vulnerable

“I’ve had to explain it to a lot of people because they’re like, ‘Well, you’re just afraid,’” said Lana Barr. “And I’m like, ‘Afraid, but we also have to keep people safe.’ I would feel terrible if I shut down a grade one classroom.

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“We wanted to protect as many people as possible. We didn’t want our son to unknowingly expose 30 kids and their families.”

Barr said virtual learning for her grade one son, Lucas, has been challenging. While the teachers have been great, Barr said she often has to guide Lucas through his schoolwork, while trying to entertain her other son, Owen, who is five years old.

Owen is getting an early education by sitting in with Lucas’ lessons.

The parents are watching the vaccine rollout closely and hope to send both children to school for in-person learning in the fall.

Watch: B.C. families keeping kids home from school over COVID-19 concerns

Barr added she is fortunate to be able to make the decision to stay home with her children, while many others don’t have that option.

The most difficult part of the pandemic year has been missing out on visits with family and friends.

“It is so frustrating because we’ve given up seeing people, doing things, and when my son sees kids playing together, well, ‘Why are those kids able to play together?’”

Barr said her mother and sister also work in health care, so porch visits or “over-the-hedge” get-togethers are all they’ve had.

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“We’ve basically spent a year at home.”

It’s been a sacrifice both parents believe is for the greater good — especially for parents with children who have health issues and cannot risk any potential exposure.

That’s why Barr is frustrated when she sees more and more people choosing not to follow health restrictions.

Watch: Busting myths and misinformation: the fight for the truth about COVID-19

“I’m angry all the time about it,” said Barr. “We could be in such a better place right now.

“Just wear your mask. Six feet.”

Barr is pleading with people to buckle down now to prevent variants from spreading.

“Please do it so we can have a future. Take it seriously so everyone can go back to what they want to do,” Barr said.

“There are lots of people who say it’s just the flu, well, talk to anyone who lost someone.”

Despite the emotional and stressful year, Barr said her sons understand why they’re staying home.

“They’ve been champions through this with all the changes and not being able to see family members.

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“We’re doing our part and that’s all you can do.”

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