These past few months have been a challenge for the majority of us. We have been asked to take the precaution of staying at home and, when going out, to wear face coverings and social distance. This has kept us safe for the most part, but has brought on new challenges.

We are not through the pandemic by any means; however, there are other things that are cropping up that we need to start considering to help each other through this. There are two different issues that I see coming to us that I would like you all to start thinking about.

First, let’s talk about respect. What is respect? According to the dictionary, it is “due regard for the feelings, wishes, rights or traditions of others.” As we start to emerge from the pandemic restrictions, we are finding two types of people — those who are ready for it and those who are not. How do we deal with both?

We all need to go out and do our business, but here are a couple of suggestions. When you go into a store, you will see people with face coverings and others without. No matter what side of the fence you sit on, please show respect for the other. Do not stare and blatantly judge the other — just keep moving and do what you came to do. If you see someone standing where you would like to be, wait patiently or go do something else and come back. Do not crowd them. 

Likewise, if you see someone waiting, don’t look at the same thing forever. Find what you need and move on. If you get close to a person and he or she moves away, maybe you should back away or vice versa. Stop and think about things before you do them and how it makes others feel. We all need to feel comfortable and we can help others and respect them and help everyone feel safe and a part of society. 

The next thing I would like to have you think about is how to help people as we reintegrate into society. This generation of youth is truly a resilient one and will bounce back. However, there are those who have truly found solace in being at home without any interaction other than their family. I have some families that I have talked to in which parents are concerned for their children as they don’t want to go out and socialize like they did before the pandemic developed. Their youth and teens feel safe at home, and that is great as that is what we want.

Now that the governor is reopening the state, here are a few suggestions to help your kids feel it is safe to go out and socialize when you as a family feel ready. Go for a drive and discuss what you feel when you see others and what they are doing. Go for a favorite treat like Hot Licks, where it is open air and social distancing can happen. Wear a face covering or at least have it on you if you can’t social distance. Pick another family that you trust and have a get-together BBQ outside where the air is flowing and social distancing is easier to do. It is important to slowly integrate back into society at your own speed and to help your youth to, but, most of all, teach them to do it safely. Face coverings should always be on hand if not worn and always have hand sanitizer and or wash your hands often.

We will need to keep a watch out for depression and other things happening among all ages over the next few months or even year(s) due to the pandemic. Please check in on your mental health as well as your youth and others you know. This is a whole new facet of life that we have not dealt with and we need to be mindful of ourselves and others. Until next time, stay safe and enjoy life.

4-H is a youth organization for youth K-12 that helps youth learn about certain items of interest to them, but also teaches them life skills. 4-H has a club structure with leaders who are adult volunteers with current background checks. To learn more about the local program, contact Marla Lowder, Tanana District 4-H agent, at 474-2427. You can also check out our web page at 4-H is a part of the Cooperative Extension Service of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.