Friday may have been Serra students’ last day of school in the 2019-2020 year.
California Governor Gavin Newsom announced on Tuesday, March 17, that schools may not reopen until the following school year amid the global COVID-19 crisis that prompted SDUSD to close schools for at least three weeks beginning March 16.
As of March 18, there are 60 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus that began in Wuhan, China and spread rapidly worldwide, in San Diego County. The virus has begun to spread throughout the community independent of travel.
With over 7,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States (and more unconfirmed as a result of a severe testing shortage), and near 100 deaths, the CDC has called for mass social distancing practices, tightening up health regulations to prohibit gatherings of 50 or more people, (the federal government also recommends limiting gatherings--to 10 or less) and strongly cautioning even those who are not experiencing symptoms to avoid unnecessary interaction within 6 feet of others. They also advise following regular hygiene maintenance, like frequent hand-washing and avoiding touching one’s face, as these are easy personal ways to prevent self-infection if one comes in contact with contaminated surfaces.
While these social distancing advisories may seem an indication that we are in panic mode, or seem overly dramatic, they are not. COVID-19 is a pandemic, and we are taking the necessary measures to address and mitigate its devastating impact.
Our healthcare system can only take so much impact. Images passed around social media encourage others to help “flatten the curve,” meaning that by practicing social distancing, we can reduce the number of active cases at any one time, keeping the pandemic within the capacity of our healthcare system.
The United States has responded to COVID-19 in ways that highlight the inefficiency and inequity of our systems. While having to worry about keeping their families healthy, Americans are also increasingly concerned with stock market plummets, skyrocketing unemployment, and exorbitant healthcare costs in a time of crisis. Many officials have shown increased acceptance of more socialized policies, such as a "Medicare for all" healthcare system that would ensure poor Americans can receive treatment for COVID-19 and other ailments without worrying about unthinkably high medical bills, even if they are on private insurance.
Even without strong national leadership during this crisis, individuals can do their part to protect their fellow citizens. Although the virus does not pose a direct threat to most young, healthy people, it is our social responsibility to protect vulnerable communities by practicing social distancing. Even asymptomatic carriers can pass on the virus to those in the danger zones.
Now more than ever is a time to rely on the technology that defines our generation and to put others’ needs before our own. Physical distance doesn’t have to mean true social distance.
This virus sucks. And it is serious. As a senior, the possibility of having my final year of high school stolen by this pandemic that has already taken so much from so many others is deeply disappointing. We will likely receive more information about the district and state’s plan to continue students’ learning amid these unprecedented circumstances in the days to come.
As much as it can feel like the world is ending right now, it is not time to panic. Now is the time to act rationally, think clearly, and get ahead of this disease while we can. It is okay to be scared, but we are all in this together.
Take a deep breath. And wash your hands.
The latest information regarding COVID-19 can be found at cdc.gov/coronavirus, as well as accessed without subscription at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/18/world/coronavirus-news.html.