Coronavirus x American Students


Niharika Sapra, Staff Writer

A global pandemic. Almost 175,000 affected. Over 6,000 dead. The first case of this deadly new virus, that attacks human respiratory symptoms and is spread by person-to-person contact, was discovered at a fish market in Wuhan, China. Since then, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has spread to over 132 countries around the world. There are currently almost 4,000 individuals who have tested positive for this virus and 70 who have died from it in the United States. The World Health Organization declared the virus a global pandemic on March 11th. On Friday, March 13, President Donald Trump declared a “national state of emergency” over COVID-19 in the United States and imposed a travel ban to and from European countries.

Along with nine other states, Governor J.B. Pritzker ordered the closure of all K-12 schools in Illinois until March 30th as the total cases in Illinois climbed to 46 (now 93). This has heavily impacted students throughout the state and around the nation, since the governor has also waived the requirement that schools be in session for 180 days, resulting in struggles amongst many teachers to complete their curriculum. Many schools have switched to an e-learning approach, but most only implemented this for Monday, March 16th due to state orders. These school closures also mean the truncation, or possibly even the termination, of the high school spring sports season. Numerous athletic and scholastic competitions and activities, including FBLA and Science Olympiad state competitions, robotics competitions, band/choir concerts, and school trips have all been cancelled or postponed. Some high school seniors are frightened by the fact that their prom or graduation may get cancelled. Senior college athletes fear that this might be the end of their career. 

On March 15th, I conducted a survey of 63 students (from 4th grade to college) in Illinois (some from Wisconsin and California as well) on how they feel about the reactions to the coronavirus pandemic. While all of them are out of school for at least two weeks, only 80% of students believed that this order should’ve been implemented. All of the students surveyed had one or more events that they were looking forward to in the following week being cancelled. Students are frustrated because they never got to see and participate in events they may have been working on or been looking forward to for months. 

According to the students, panic buying has also contributed to additional anxiety amongst adults and teens, as they all fear a potential quarantine. Also, any family members, especially those who are traveling or live in different states, have been separated due to the risk of disease transmission and many students are reluctant to visit their grandparents. However, while the school closures have contributed to increased frustration amongst the students, some support the additional closure of government buildings and malls and enjoy spending time with their families at home.

Even with the numerous restrictions implemented by both our governor and the federal government, on Sunday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new recommendations for large events and mass gatherings, asking organizers to cancel or postpone events of 50 people or more over the next eight weeks to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This could mean school closures till up to May 9th if conditions continue to worsen. As scientific communities continue to find vaccines and preventative measures for the coronavirus, students recommend Americans to make informed decisions about their actions and not to follow anxiety-driven individuals by over-purchasing household items, like toilet paper and hand-sanitizers, and to increase social distancing and personal hygiene.