Writer: Anusha T.
Editor: Sarah P.
Visual: Anushka V.
On Monday morning, my classmates and I were sitting in a classroom having a conversation about COVID-19 (coronavirus) shutting school down. One student raised their hand and fearfully asked, “If school shuts tomorrow, how will we do our presentations?” Everyone laughed and brushed it off but the next morning, we got the text from our advisors that school had been canceled.
Only then did it really start to weigh in my mind how much COVID-19 had and will affect our lives. According to Rappler, over the course of just a couple of months, the global death toll has reached 4,011, and the number of cases worldwide has risen to more than 110,000 with the virus spreading to over 100 countries.
While no confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been identified in students at ISM, the school has been taking proactive measures to limit the spread of the virus. A school can impact thousands of people, parents dropping off kids to school, faculty members, janitors and of course, the students. It leads to so many interactions, that if one person has the virus they could spread it to so many others at a facility like a school. Sciencemag states that there is proof that closing schools reduces pandemics with the Spanish Flu in 1918: “What they found was that proactive school closing saved substantial numbers of lives. St. Louis closed the schools about a day in advance of the epidemic spiking, for 143 days. Pittsburgh closed 7 days after the peak and only for 53 days. And the death rate for the epidemic in St. Louis was roughly one-third as high as in Pittsburgh.”.
To learn about more of the specific impacts that COVID-19 would have in ISM, I interviewed Mr. Birchenal, the high school assistant principal. He started off by expressing his opinion, “To be truthful, I think we would all prefer to be back in school. Learning is such a social experience and is difficult to replicate at home”. Mr. Birchenall continued to articulate the point of view of the faculty, “I would like the students to know that their teachers don’t enjoy having empty classrooms and that we miss the day to day interactions that are such a part of daily school life. I would also encourage them to continue working hard while they are at home. “
Just like the COVID-19, rumours have been quick to spread. With changes such as the mocks continuing over zoom, classes being extended to an hour and school being closed for a month, these rumors created an environment of panic and confusion based on the fear of the unknown. One big question asked by many was, why did we need to shorten classes? When interviewed, Mr. Birchenall stated, “Initially, we were worried about students being in front of a computer screen for 6 or 7 hours a day so we made the decision to limit lessons to 30 minutes. I think this would have been adequate if the campus was only going to be closed for a week or two but once it became clear that we would be out for longer than that we felt we had to increase the available time to an hour per block.”.
The use of virtual schooling has come with many challenges, including how to do assessments and presentations. With the shortened day, some teachers have failed to realize the amount of time an assignment takes. Social studies teacher Mr. Berg specifies some of the disadvantages of online schooling, stating, “Missing that one on one face time that you get in the classroom and not having those moments where conversations can guide a lesson. Just the fun, impromptu things that come up during the school day.” This social interaction is hugely important, especially in some of the elective courses such as Dance, Drama and Physical Education.
Although canceling school might have been stressful for seniors, I couldn’t have been any happier. It’s safe to say the first day was a breeze: I got to sleep in, finish school by one and binge watch Netflix. But as I approached the second and third days, it got harder and harder. Homework piled up, classwork was hard to get through, and some assignments weren’t posted on time. The physical barrier made it so that assessments were changed and projects were put aside. That being said, we have to make the best out of the given circumstances and consider the positives. Because of all these changes, I am able to pick up more hobbies and tune in to my creative side. I hope everyone else can look at the positive side of this unfortunate situation and stay safe!
Doherty, Ben. “Coronavirus: Mass School Closures and Industry Shutdown on the Cards, Says Victoria’s Premier.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 10 Mar. 2020, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/coronavirus-mass-school-closures-and-industry-shutdown-on-the-cards-says-victorias-premier.
France, Agence. “PH Coronavirus Watch: Suspected Cases per Region, as of March 10, 2020.” Rappler, 10 Mar. 2020, http://www.rappler.com/nation/254014-suspected-novel-coronavirus-cases-per-region-philippines-march-10-2020.