It is a pandemic, sweeping the world. What started in China and jumped to Italy is now hitting the United States with its full force. COVID-19 plagues even Henry County with fear and hysteria. People are scared, scrambling after toilet paper and hand sanitizer before they have even made it to shelves, but Ola is not the first, nor will it be the last, community affected.
“Three weeks ago schools closed down, while it’s been two weeks of quarantine, meaning that we can’t go out unless you have a document that says that you are going to somewhere necessary like the grocery store or work,” Ludo Leanza, a student from Rome, Italy, said.
Although local grocery stores are already hectic, Leanza assures that they will remain open. If other areas are any indication, the way stores operate could change.
“They let two people in [to grocery stores]. Everyone has to have a meter of distance from someone else and they tell you to hurry because the line outside is kind of long,” Leanza said.
A little further East, Israel guaranteed that their essential stores would remain open as well. Regardless, Opal Kolp, Israeli student, still sees panic across her country.
“People are thinking that the government is going to let people die and I don’t really know why. But maybe that’s the right way [to think] because then they won’t go out and people won’t get the virus,” Kolp said.
Instead of seeing fewer people go out, a lot of students across the United States have witnessed fear’s effect on shelves.
“The hygienic aisles are clear and toilet paper is non-existent… I think it’s a bit redundant. Hoarding things takes away from the rest of the people who need them,” Steven Garrett, Wash. senior, said.
In bigger cities, things are even beginning to escalate into violence. Alex Neikirk, a Miami, Fl. sophomore who works at his local Publix, can attest to that.
“I saw two older ladies physically fight over the last roll of toilet paper,” Neikirk said.
The more compassionate commonality across the world is the way in which school systems have responded. The vast majority of schools have moved their classrooms onto the Internet, in an attempt at ‘Remote Learning,’ a term which Ola has already become familiar with.
“We’ll be following our timetable and just going ahead with the study design for our subjects. It will be a 20 minute group class video call and then after that we will then upload to be checked that we are actually doing stuff,” Thomas Stojanovski, Australian student, said.
While Stojanovski’s school has implemented a strict schedule and Ola has provided a flexible one, other students are not so lucky. Some schools have barely used online platforms to support their lessons in the past and are reaping the consequences now.
“Everything is kind of new to us. In my opinion, my school didn’t respond well to the whole thing. My teachers don’t know how to use technology in general, so they are having trouble. Plus, I never had the chance to video call my teachers so I’m studying everything by myself,” Leanza said.
Garrett, on the other hand, sees no problem with the way his school has handled the circumstances, even though they took a period without any assigned work.
“[School has been] updating us with information the second they receive it, whether it be from the school board or [Wash.] Governor Jay Inslee,” Garrett said.
Some students did not mind school closures so much as what it really insinuated: boredom beyond compare. Simen Sigvartsen, a Norwegian student, has struggled with social distancing.
“[I am] bored. We can’t do anything. There’s just sitting inside doing your homework or playing games. There are no parties anymore,” Sigvartsen said.
Other students have found, just like Ola’s, that when they are able to go out, there is nothing to do. Nearly everything has closed.
“Many of my friends, their parents won’t let them go out because of what the government recommended so I don’t see my friends. I FaceTime with them but it isn’t the same… I haven’t gone out in three days,” Kolp said.
Many of Ola’s seniors are more concerned with missing important traditions such as prom instead of social interaction. Norwegian seniors have their own prom-like traditions to worry about.
“We’re afraid that this virus will ruin something we call “Russetid”. It’s something only us[sic] in Norway celebrate because we’re done with high school,” Sigvartsen said.
Whether students across the world are missing traditions or not, they are cautioned to stay inside for a good reason. Leanza has seen the effect that COVID-19 has had on Italy and does not want other countries to experience the same.
“At first I underestimated the whole thing because I couldn’t imagine that it would turn out the way it did. However, I think that right now it is very stupid and selfish if someone doesn’t take this seriously. I follow quite a few people from the United States and they all go out. It is something that can affect every country, including the United States and going out means putting at risk other people’s lives, not only yours,” Leanza said.
No matter where someone is from, it seems like COVID-19 has completely taken over every media platform. One cannot listen to any radio station and not hear warnings to wash their hands. One cannot open a social media app as absentminded as Tik Tok without seeing the, “Learn more about COVID-19,” warning at the bottom. One cannot turn on the news without hearing the latest official address.
“Watching the news 24/7 makes people more scared. [If I could change something, I would] air more stories about progress made in finding a vaccine instead of reporting on every single foreign death,” Neikirk said.
One thing everyone across the world can relate to, student or not, is that they want this entire situation to end. Some are more optimistic about how soon that will be.
“I want a summer with festivals, so I hope the virus will lose soon,” Sigvartsen said.
Others are worried that the worst is yet to come.
“It will be a while before we find and can distribute a vaccine so there will be more deaths, and with these deaths I think people will continue to stock up on food and supplies in fear,” Neikirk said.
No matter what happens, no one is standing alone against this virus. Everything may seem scary right now, but the whole world is experiencing the same fear, together, even though some cases are worse than others. In times like this, it is important to remember that not only everyone in the community, but everyone in the world is united against this, leaving no one alone.
“We probably won’t go out for another six weeks, which is so hard to think about. Even the economy of the country is suffering so much from this. The only thing we can do is wait and hope for the best,” Leanza said.