It began with whispers of “Did you hear there’s a new virus going around?” to news about the virus first spreading to the USA to hearing “The U.S. is now the world leader for the country with the largest number of COVID-19 cases.” It started with after school activities being canceled to sports such as the NBA and the NHL being suspended to schools potentially being closed for the rest of the school year. The news from an infinite amount of news sources certainly adds to the anxiety; One minute I am angry, frustrated, and hopeless, and the next minute, I am optimistic, fascinated, and electrified for the positive. Within a matter of weeks, I have gone from an extended Spring break to losing the opportunity to take the SAT to possibly forfeiting the opportunity to attend my high school prom. I’ve seen the whole world shut down due to travel ban restrictions, and I’ve observed the entire nation go on a hard lockdown known as a “shelter in place.”
A tough part about having a shelter in place is seeing all of my would-be life experiences cut short and some completely canceled. Over spring break, I was scheduled to go to a 4-day conference in Springfield for a health club called HOSA, but around a week before school closures, it was called off. I remember being so upset because I saw it as an exaggeration without any precedence but I quickly came to realize that this was the first of many things to be canceled. Slowly, I heard from many friends about more and more things being canceled: band concerts, debate tournaments, internships, etc. Then, a few days later, they announced that schools would be closed through the end of March and that they would re-evaluate at the end of the month for what needed to be done. I was so relieved and excited to have 2 weeks off to just relax, but it soon turned into a fear that I would be losing out on some of the most memorable experiences of my life. I may not be able to watch all of my friends walk down the aisle at their graduation and I’ll never know what it’s like to experience some of the most stressful weeks of my life at the end of junior year, with AP exams and the ACT piling up on top of each other. It’s frustrating to think about some of these life events being canceled but it’s really helped to think about the brighter side of the future and to look at the positive things. There are other people who are unable to receive the basic necessities to survive, so being upset about not being able to go to prom or school competitions is the least of worries. However, the true challenge has been coping with isolation and getting adjusted to online learning.
The biggest adjustment that I, along with my other peers, have made is the switch from in-class education to remote e-learning using applications such as Schoology and Zoom. When I heard about e-learning, I was not too fond of the idea of learning remotely from home because it’s difficult to interact efficiently with teachers and learning online will never be the same as being in a classroom setting. I also had a lot of uncertainty about grading and how we would be able to test at home, but I feel like schools and education companies such as the College Board are doing a great job at making students feel safe and well assured that they are being considered and given top priority. When we started e-learning, I noticed that I have more freedom than I would have with a normal school day; I can wake up whenever I like and do my homework in any order that I want. Teachers give five days to complete and turn in assignments which gives me more leeway. However, the true difficulty in e-learning is not being able to physically interact with my friends and see others besides my family members. It’s difficult to resist the urge to leave my house and meet friends, but I remember that the key to limiting the spread of the virus is to practice social distancing of 6 feet or more. I remember that the reason for this shelter in place is to minimize the spread of the virus and to prevent a possible outbreak within my own community. Many say to take things a day at a time, but the reality is that the meaning of a day has lost its true identity.
This post was written by S.C.A.R.F. Ambassador, Rushang Mittal