For years, I sat on this side of the world viewing situations that I thought were far removed from me. I don't think I was disconnected because whether it was war, famine, school shootings, SARS, Ebola, the images on screen always pulled at my heart strings and the voice of someone dear always seemed to whisper 'there, but for the Grace of God go I". On Sunday night though, the inevitable happened. When the prime minister announced that the first COVID-19 case had been identified on Dominica, a silence fell over me and the words "the world is a global village' held more significance than it ever had. I played back the images on the screen, the personnel in white coats, the voices of the medical professionals expressing the severity of the situation in every country where COVID-19 had landed, some more dire than others, some so dire it almost seemed hopeless to fight and yet fight they must. I thought of my Dominica and its capability to handle such a situation and realized that we all have to fight if COVID-19's spread is to be stemmed. Dominicans must, therefore, understand that their actions will make a difference one way or another. If there was anytime more necessary to become your brother's keeper, it is now, because becoming your brother's keeper will be a means of stemming the spread. Everyone must, therefore, accept that Personal Responsibility must be at the forefront of the fight to stem COVID-19's spread.

I am not a medical professional; I am but a humble teacher and school counsellor. I, therefore, think it is imperative that I add my voice to those already out there in the fight. We have been receiving much information on the steps necessary to ensure we stay safe during this outbreak as presently, there is no vaccine to come to our aid. All the formation being disseminated calls for the adopting or maintaining of good hygiene practices and practicing social distancing -avoiding being parts of large crowds anywhere. This is where our challenge begins. We are by nature very social beings, we meet, shake hands, hug and in some instance kiss each other, and chat, chat, chat in close proximity. We are now being told that we must stop this with immediate effect, and we must. I see the long lines outside supermarkets, and although the proprietors are doing all they can to encourage social distancing, we seem to be deaf and devoid of understanding. I do understand the panic, but we must stop and think. We stand too close to each other in these lines and we talk too much. Now is the time to understand what "personal space "means and what listening to one's thoughts mean. If we exercise a bit of patience, we will get what we want in order to prepare for what's next. Like you, I have been listening to the news, reading, and listening to the advice and warnings of those in the know, and we have been told that one of the ways that the virus is spread is through droplets. We all know how droplets are emitted from our bodies, so we must accede to the credible sources of information and do what we are told we must.

Yesterday, I received a video which featured several medical professionals advocating for people to stay home and I am certain that many received this video or saw the clip-on TV. The schools are closed, so our children are supposed to be home. Parents, where are your children now? Have you had family discussions on the severity of the issue and the importance of staying home? Now more than ever, you must assert your authority as parents to help stem the tide of this contagion, relieve the workload of our medical professionals, and secure the safety of all on our lovely island. Your children should be indoors where hopefully, they will be safe. Now is not the time to visit neighbours, friends, or walk about the city or neighbourhood under the guise of being on holiday. This is not a holiday. Now is not the time for your children to congregate with others in groups to explore, play games or whatever it is they do when they are together. Now is the time to like one's personal space. The ministry has done what it must- suspended classes to ensure your children's safety and the safety of the general population. Things are being put in place to instruct your children from home and there will be hiccups like in every other situation, but in time the online instructions with teachers will flow. The responsibility now lies with you. Ensure that your children are home, so they don't inadvertently bring the virus home or help in its spread. Keep them occupied at home by ensuring they do assignments, chores, read, play games -everything in moderation. Teachers let us be cognizant of the fact that for some children, this is their introduction to online instruction. Let us be accommodating, sensitive to their needs and social circumstance and let us make the transition and experience an enjoyable one for them, We cannot afford to frustrate them at this time, so let's not give busy work, but meaningful assignments, and let us be conscious that they are, in some instances, receiving work from a number of teachers at the same time. Parents, many of you must still leave home to work since we have not all been told to stay home, so many are still in the line of fire. Let us exercise all the caution we can by taking Personal Responsibility to help stem the tide of COVID-19 in our own little part of the Global Village, Dominica.