My Pandemic Perspective
No one wants to hear it said again, but here it is: we’re really going through it right now. Between the growing stir-craze and the horrific acts of racism surfacing across the country, it’s often easy to lose our perspective. I have felt a few times that these two and a half months have seemed like forever, so I wanted to write this to give myself, and hopefully some of my friends reading this, a much-needed step back.
About a week before writing this piece, I sent out a survey to the Upper School, asking for input on the COVID-19 situation as well as a short list of the events and experiences the pandemic has made them miss out on. I wanted to do that because while my friends and I have a pretty decent variety of interests, I knew there would be something I missed, and there still probably will be, but here’s my best shot at giving a lot of you guys reading this some activity-based shout outs. On the club front, the Robotics Club and Debate Team’s seasons were cut short, and the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race was canceled. There were some unnamed clubs too. I know I can’t address all of the sports that were canceled here, so here’s just a few. I had a few responses about missing a Freshman tennis season, as well as some about lacrosse and the spring dance season. I also got one or two about us not getting to enjoy the inaugural year of our baseball diamond, which I’m kind of sad about too because I was actually going to go to a sports game because of it.
Overall, there was a pretty common sentiment of missing friends and community events. And then there were the musical and prom. Normally two of the biggest events of the year, just gone. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t anywhere near the most affected by this, since I can’t dance, which kind of hurt my experience at either, but I really feel for the people who it actually affected. Missing out on prom is something that kids across the country were punched in the gut by, including one of our seniors, who referred to it as “something American media has told us since we were five is the most incredible night of your four years.”
When thinking about things like this, especially for the seniors, this really was about as bad as it could be… or was it? Yes, we all feel for the seniors: not getting a prom or a proper goodbye, but that was the bare minimum we had to sacrifice to keep everyone we care about safe. I think a quote from an anonymous member of the community sums up my thoughts on this spring pretty well. “I’ve been thinking a lot during quarantine, and I am grateful. I'm grateful for all of my hard-working teachers, for having the technology I need to continue my schoolwork, and for having a safe home to be quarantined in.”
Some members of our community are more affected by the virus than others. In the wake of COVID-19, individuals face financial, familial, or even internet-based struggles. Despite these issues, I think there can be a bright side. My mother, a financial advisor, as well as her entire company, believe that the entire US economy will be forever changed by this situation and to me, that’s good. I hope that seeing the struggles of others during this time will open the eyes of the people up top to how they can use their platform for good. And it’s already happening! In late April of this year, Comcast’s internet branch, Xfinity, created a coalition of over 650 internet companies, big and small, across the country, to make the internet not just accessible, but reliable and affordable for all people. Some of their actions have already begun coming to our homefront. In Baltimore City, 40% of homes lack reliable Internet access, and Comcast has made free Internet accessible to any of those who apply for it, and there are currently talks in progress to make it a much longer commitment. In terms of the economic stuff, pretty much every company who wants to make it in the future is restructuring for a post-COVID world, which for a lot of places means better employee benefits and safety nets in the case of a new one of these crises, and for others means safer practices to prevent this from happening again.
In terms of the people who lost opportunities to celebrate planned events, I also feel that there’s a silver lining there. It’s a thin one, I grant you; one you really have to squint at, but it just might be worth looking for. Yes, there was no prom or senior musical, but we get to keep going. If we had just muscled through without adhering to local laws or sound medical advice, we wouldn’t be going back until much later next year, if at all. We could have passed the coronavirus from a single carrier to the entire school in that one night. And imagine if any other schools had carried on too! We would be responsible for a truly terrible spike in an already brutal crisis, which I don’t know if I could live with.
So I know that this time isn’t fun for many people, (except for those of us who invested in Animal Crossing and kind of just forgot about school), but by the time this comes out, Maryland is into Stage Two of Governor Hogan’s reopening plan, which is giving a lot of people hope for a return to some semblance of normalcy. While I know this has been a really heavy time for everyone, I just hope that we’re all staying safe so I can see you all as soon as possible.
Cover Image: Upper School presents "The Addams Family" - 2019
Credit: Rick Lippenholz