With the surging number of COVID-19 cases in the community, Megan Kirk and her husband knew that, somehow, their family would be affected.
But when it actually happened, “It hit like a freight train,” said Kirk, who with her husband, Monty, have four young children ages 2 to 8 - including twins.
She is the Vigo County School Corp. Project Aware coach, and her husband Monty is principal at North Vermillion Jr./Sr. High school. In October, they both tested positive for COVID-19, as did their 2-year-old daughter Hadley.
“Our whole world just stopped. We just locked down immediately,” she said.
The ordeal began in late October, when Monty stayed home after not feeling well. After a day or two, he tested and was positive. Soon after, Megan tested positive and the Kirks decided the rest of the family should test as well.
Two-year-old daughter Hadley also was positive, while her twin brother, Beau, was negative. “That was very baffling,” Megan Kirk said. “The twins are always on my lap or I’m always holding them.”
The Kirks wonder if Beau had it earlier and they just didn’t realize it; the 2-year-old had been lethargic about a week before Monty got sick.
Their two older sons, Ronan, 8 and Connor, 6, also were negative.
Even before Monty’s results came back, the family began a period of isolation for those with COVID, and quarantine for their sons.
Fortunately, everyone has recovered, quarantines are over — and they are back to daily living, but always maintaining COVID precautions that include wearing masks in public.
But just as her two older sons were ready to return to school Thursday, Vigo County schools went fully remote.
“These boys were supposed to return to school with their friends and teachers today after being home since Oct. 23, but now they have to wait even longer,” Kirk had posted on social media.
“They missed time with their grandparents, Halloween, sports activities, and birthday parties while they've been quarantined with minimal complaints. They've been troopers and such great helpers when their parents and sister tested positive for COVID. We don't know how COVID made its way into our home because we mask everywhere we go, but it still happened.”
When family members learned they were positive, they knew all activities and plans had to be canceled, and that included Halloween festivities.
It was a difficult period, “but with time and reflecting on it and shifting our perspective a little, we came to peace with it,” she said. “We understand this was us taking responsibility to protect others and to take care of our family ... and make sure we come out of this healthy.”
And while the family did isolate and quarantine according to state guidelines, with four children, “We still had to take care of them,” Kirk said.
They did online-pickup for groceries or had them delivered, or people would drop things off.
The older boys continued to do their school work remotely.
For Halloween, the family had a party at home. “We all dressed up and had a ghost hunt in the back yard ... We had to make it a little different this year,” she said.
Fortunately, some pleasant weather days enabled them to go outside and go for walks.
Now, “We’re all good and healthy. We’re lucky we had mild symptoms, but it was definitely a journey,” Kirk said.
The Kirks worked to make the best of the situation, but at times, it was difficult.
“To watch my kids quarantine when they were completely healthy is hard,” Kirk said. “They missed their friends.” Ronan and Connor did visit friends through FaceTime and through calls.
For Thanksgiving, the Kirks will stay home and celebrate as a family of six.
Kirk encourages people to follow precautions recommended by health officials.
“We have to slow the spread in the community. It’s growing like rapid fire,” she said. “We all have to do our part. I know it’s hard with the holidays coming up. We want to connect with our family and friends.”
But small sacrifices now hopefully will mean many more celebrations with family in the future. “I’m feeling confident the light will get brighter as we near the end of the tunnel,” Kirk said. “We have to keep pushing forward.”
Taking care of mental health also is important, she said. The community has many providers willing to help families.
Through Project Aware, she works with social-emotional learning and addressing the mental health needs of school children.
School counselors have access to resources. “If families need support, we are there to help,” she said.
Stress can be high during the holidays, and now,the pandemic is adding another layer of stress.
“Trying to take care of ourselves and reaching out when we need help is really important,” she said.
On social media, Kirk had the following message:
“After seeing our county's numbers [Wednesday] skyrocket after last week and seeing our schools close again, please, please, please wear your mask. Our kids are watching how we react to COVID precautions and whether we're taking responsibility for reducing community spread. Please do your part. Our kids and our community deserve better.”