The Coronavirus. COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2. More or less, they’re all the same thing. They are the cause for so much distress, so many deaths and the ongoing cautiousness of the government in every plot to reopen and restore society. The first wave was in April, schools were immediately declared closed and Donald Trump would give briefings multiple times a week. The numbers were truly staggering, with death tolls surpassing 2,000 every single day. Schools shifted to online learning, another distressing aspect for young people in particular. The epicenter of correct and factual information was Dr. Fauci, who hypothesized the second coming of COVID during primarily the summer times. What was not hypothesized was the large gatherings of people, the direct result of police brutality protests along with the riots and looting. The ripple effect of so many people coming together at once was more COVID-19 cases being afflicted upon the young cohort of people, from ages 16 to 30 who in turn would bring the disease home to their families. Numbers in South Carolina are a direct representation of this exactly, as within the past 3 weeks, there have been over 50,000 new COVID-19 cases with a vast majority, nearly 60%, of cases being present in people ages 16-30.
In fact today, July 11th has seen 10,000 new cases in Florida itself and statewide numbers have officially surpassed a quarter of a million people. When asked repeatedly of the U.S.’s condition, President Donald Trump has refrained from speaking on the resurgence of cases. In fact, he speaks of the opposite, deeming the current conditions to be “terrifically progressive,” and that “We've (the country) tested more than every country combined.” It hasn’t been terrifically progressive, as 50,000 cases are being reported every single day and looking from an objective point of view, it can be said that the President’s priorities have shifted from lessening COVID patients to ensuring that he does indeed get re-elected. Claims on the condition of the United States have been falsified by the President as he was recently called out by Dr. Fuaci. There has been some sort of internal disagreement amongst the two as the last time Fauci was present along with the president for an informative briefing was more than a month ago. Publicly, Dr. Fauci has referred to President Trump’s claims as “false,” with various news reports coming out, stating that they are no longer on speaking terms.
The plan by these people, Dr. Fauci, Donald Trump, state and federal officials is to slowly reinstate the pre-pandemic policies and norms that are relevant to what we define as normal society. Slowly but surely, the economy needs to be facilitated, schools will most likely reopen and transportation will be used by more people. The question here is whether or not these can happen efficiently. Our young cohort needs to take matters more seriously and not lash out on every single act of restriction among them. Not only them, but we all still need to maintain 6 feet of distance, carry hand-sanitizers with us at all times and limit person to person contact. People often ask, “what can I do to best support my community at this time?” By doing the things mentioned above, THAT is the best way to serve our community because what do we want? We want to limit the spread of the virus so other people won’t contract it. People are dying, losing loved ones, the elderly are being affected the most since their immune system has become weakened. If sacrificing a party or a large get-together is all it takes to perhaps save, at the very least, a few people then so be it.. That is the best way to serve our community.
But of course, it’s not the only way. One of the most critical problems during the COVID-19 pandemic has been the widespread shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE)—masks, isolation gowns, face shields, exam gloves—designed to keep healthcare workers safe while treating others. Monetary donations to local hospitals and clinics will help them purchase protective equipment. There are also fundraisers specifically designed to ensure that the monetary donations received go directly to families that are finding it difficult to put food on the table. Yes, they all require money but what doesn’t is simply reaching out to a friend or a loved one. We can’t always fathom what the person to the left or right of us is going through but we can lend a helping hand and show them that we care.
COVID-19 has changed numerous aspects of society and the way people go about their daily lives. Politically, campaign events for the upcoming 2020 Presidential election have been put off, leaving the two candidates no choice but to use virtual campaigning methods in order to garner support. A multitude of businesses have suffered financially, and retail stores have been forced to utilize the digital web heavily in order to maintain profit. On the other hand, companies like Netflix and Bytedance (Parent company of TikTok) have thrived as a consequence of people being forced to stay home. On a more relevant note, students have dealt with arguably the most changes. The transition from in-school to virtual learning has been a tough one, mentally, students have been drained and emotionally it’s been a rough ride which has had fluctuating effects on their school performance. Before more school and college updates, I would like to say that we will get through this. There will be a time and place, where we are once again going to enjoy the wonders and joys in life, so to anyone reading this and having a hard time, my heart is with you and stay strong, focus on doing the things you love to do but in a different, safe manner.
Rising seniors have dealt with the most conflicting (or for many students, GOOD!) adjustments as all 8 Ivy League schools, along with several others have declared that the SAT/ACT along with SAT subject tests have all been deemed optional. You may be asking, so what will colleges look at as previously, grades and your SAT scores mattered for the most part. What admissions committees will look at is, “The rigor of a student’s curriculum, their academic achievement, and their demonstrated intellectual curiosity,” and students WILL NOT be negatively impacted if they do not submit their standardized test. In fact, Scott Jashik of MIT’s Higher Education has stated that “it will not consider the scores of students who submit them [SAT SUBJECT TESTS].” Furthermore, with regards to school overall, President Donald Trump has tweeted, “In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS. The Dems think it would be bad for them politically if U.S. schools open before the November Election, but it is important for the children & families.” He then goes on to threaten to cut funding if schools are not reopened. Reading along the lines, it’s an assumption, but certainly a plausible one to state that reopening of the schools would be an aspect of society that would return to normal, and that would add to the false notion that Donald Trump has indeed gotten the country back together. It’s a cunning ploy to assert his reelection credentials, however, Germany, Denmark and Norway have flattened the curve. The U.S. have not.
As it pertains to students in New York State specifically, Andrew Cuomo has taken a more cautious approach in stating that a Final Decision is yet to be made, and one will be made by the start of August. This will be a state decision involving Chancellors, Mayors, and the Governor. Schools reopening are directly affiliated with increasing Economic growth and overall stability, as transportation methods such as Trains, Buses will all reopen along with having more capital being put in stores (i.e.students buying more food, necessities, supplies).
With the way things are going, taking into account the Coronavirus cases and overall situation it does seem as if schools will reopen in the fall, as the Governor hinted many times that he is “all for reopening schools.” The main goal of these politicians is to facilitate the economy, education, and other aspects of society to ensure that pre-pandemic circumstances are restored and recovered slowly but surely. What should be the main objective is to ensure that everyone is healthy and free from falling victim to COVID-19. How the schools will be reopened, that is yet to be confirmed. The solution that seems most likely is that there could be a mix of virtual and in-class learning with the ever-growing numbers. Releasing wild teenagers and equally, if not more, wild middle-schoolers may have detrimental effects on the case numbers of the virus but the priorities of the politicians are clear, to “restore society.” Regardless of the final decision, attendance numbers will most likely not be counted against someone so, I would like to leave everyone with saying that your health is the most important thing at this moment in time. Grades can come second, they relatively define short-term inconsistencies or successes (based on whatever you see your grades are). What does matter is maintaining your health now so in the years to come, we’ll be alive to talk about this with each other, our families and the future generations. Reach out if you have any questions or if you just want to chat, my email is LabibKamal@nestmk12.net. Stay safe everyone!