Physically Distanced, Socially United- Changes To Life After COVID-19
In a matter of months, COVID-19 has taken the world by storm. Each day, new stories emerge of the damage caused by the respiratory illness. China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and the USA are among a long list of countries that have been greatly impacted. What began as a distant fear has become a reality as many countries have declared states of emergencies and have gone on lockdown.
As a state, Colorado has faced high numbers of confirmed cases, which are still continuing to rise. Consequently, the Polis administration was successfully able to classify the state under major disaster status, enabling Colorado to receive additional funds and support from the federal government. Although testing has become increasingly available, the scarce tests are designated for those individuals deemed to have likely come in contact with the virus. Without the necessary testing, Colorado has issued a stay-at-home order to enforce social distancing measures, requiring Coloradans to stay home except in cases of essential work, critical shopping, and outdoor recreation. New methods such as a saliva and antibody test will hopefully identify workers who may potentially be able to return to their jobs. Until then, the state is looking to implement a safer-at-home policy, with businesses gradually opening based on the type of service they provide.
At a local level, schools, businesses, hospitals, and governments have faced tremendous impacts. Standley Lake High School is just one of the many US schools to close down its physical building for the remainder of the academic year. This shift in the education system has resulted in students learning online, as part of a remote learning plan. Standardized testing like the SAT and PSAT have also been rescheduled this year out of concern for students’ health. Additionally, all IB testing has been canceled, while AP tests are online now with a modified exam.
The remote learning plan at Standley Lake includes a 4-day schedule with alternating periods. Teachers are available for direct communication during Gator Time at the end of the day. While some subjects are more difficult to teach virtually, teachers are finding new and innovative ways to deliver their lessons, such as through chats, pre-recorded videos, and online meetings.
The resulting school closures have also spilled over into extracurricular life. Students participating in spring sports and activities have been unable to compete since a CHSAA-issued order halted all practices, competitions, and gatherings in general.
Without a doubt, the unexpected disruption in the education system has caused an abundance of stress among students. For some students, school was an escape from any trouble they might face in their home life. For others, school added anxiety and stress, while others benefited from the social and academic aspect. To aid this stress, Standley Lake’s counselors have been doing their best to reach out to students during this time to offer support and resources. They are available online through their website on the SLHS home page. The Lake reached out to Mrs. Green, one of Standley's counselors to gain insight from her perspective.
“A big concern for me is the mental stress quarantine is placing on students. Students are having to deal with issues like family fighting, financial troubles, uncertainty and anxiety all on their own. Counselors are available virtually, but it gives me an uneasy feeling to not be able to check in with students in person” said Green.
The pandemic has also raised concern for local business owners, most of whom are going without income during this time. Chelsie Emmerson ‘21, whose family owns and operates a local favorite The Cereal Box, Inc. in Olde Town Arvada, spoke on some of the challenges facing her family’s business.
At the initial onset of the virus, the breakfast-themed cafe tried keeping their doors open, but struggled to do so.
“The cost of staying open was not worth it. We have moved to an online presence [, and] the Cereal Box has continued to sell toys, boxes of cereal, candy, and merchandise located on our online store”.
Without the regular stream of income generated by the shop, Emmerson fears that revenue generated from the online store will not be enough.
“At first we anticipated that we would be able to reopen but now we are skeptical” Emmerson said, adding that “we have been trying to create funding as much as we can”.
The Cereal Box, Inc. and other businesses like it, particularly restaurants will have to wait some time before reopening.
The number of confirmed cases, globally, has passed 2 million, with over 1 million cases in the United States alone and deaths still on the climb. Though the number of cases has exhibited exponential growth, experts and government officials hope that the efforts to maintain social distancing and stay-at-home orders will pay off by flattening the curve, meaning that the overall number of cases will decrease and will spread over a longer period of time to minimize stress on the healthcare system. Scientists are still unsure how long immunity will last for the individuals who have recovered from the virus.
Through all of the challenges the coronavirus has caused, there is still hope remaining. New York State Officials have reported that the state and city are seeing lower cases of the virus each day. The officials have voiced that the situation in New York may soon improve. In the midst of the optimistic news, they ask that the state still uses caution. Italy has begun to see a lower death rate, while China has reported its first day without Coronavirus deaths since January. Wuhan, the origin of the Coronavirus, have lifted their lockdown as of April 7th. Other nations are beginning to look into the possibility of easing restrictions.
While this new reality is not the expectation any of us had for 2020, it is not without its silver-lining. The majority of humanity has risen to the occasion and has shown that although we are apart, we are still united. Healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, local business owners and all the citizens in between have done their part to support each other through this pandemic. Simple acts of kindness such as writing ‘thank you’ letters to front-line workers, making masks for those in need, and calling the people you miss are among the easiest ways to show appreciation and respect for one another during these uncertain times.
Zoe Garrimone, Sejal Goud, Jay Keodonexay, Kiana Miska, Olivia Overton, Ally Romero, Isabella Tucker-Sandoval