By Anna Broderick, Highlander Staff Writer
As more and more restrictions and closures were made mid-March due to the spreading of COVID-19, many people were driven into isolation. So when Governor Whitmer announced the official stay-at-home order on March 23, people all over the state were faced with the reality that they would be confined to only their home, and the people or lack of people in it, for the quarantine that would halt American life for months.
Each household in the country has had to adjust their living situation, from a college student moving back with their parents to someone who is quarantining in total isolation.
“I live alone, and I work at home. So my life is very similar, but what’s different is that once or twice I would go out and get together with a friend, and I’ve realized how much just one outing in a week did a lot to get through the rest of my week, which was basically isolated,” said Cathy Score.
A violin teacher that lives alone with her three cats, Score is used to doing work at home. But for others, maintaining a productive routine and completing necessary work has been a struggle under quarantine.
“The switch to online school has been kind of hard for me”, said Amber Leslie, a Seaholm sophomore, “I don’t really have a lot of structure now so my time management is not as good, and it’s hard to get schoolwork done at home.”
For most students, this quarantine has been the first time they have experienced online learning. As uncertainties rise if schools will be able to return to normalcy this fall, students are left having to adjust to learning the necessary curriculum online.
“We have to strike a balance between what children need and what families can do, and how you maintain some kind of work-life balance in the home environment,” Paul Reville, former secretary of education for Massachusetts, said in an interview conducted by the Harvard Gazette, “The default in our education system is now homeschooling. Virtually all parents are doing some form of homeschooling, whether they want to or not. And the question is: What resources, support, or capacity do they have to do homeschooling effectively?”.
While students and families are dealing with remote learning, teachers are also facing the challenge of teaching the necessary curriculum online.
“As a teacher, my mom set up a whole room in our house to be her ‘classroom’, and she even got a green screen. She seems like she’s doing well with the workload of making lessons and doing online meetings with her students,” Leslie said regarding her mom, a fourth grade teacher at Harlan Elementary.
Such changes in work and daily routine has impacted the mental health of many. In the research paper Preparing for an Influenza Pandemic: Mental Health Considerations, the consequences of a pandemic on one’s mental health is discussed. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health describe how emotions, namely paranoia, anger, and fear “may drive behaviors that can include evacuation panic, resistance to public health measures, overburdening of hospitals and clinicians, blaming of the government, and abandoning responsibilities to families and jobs”.
To avoid these negative emotions many are used to hanging out with friends, which has now been limited to hangouts online. Though face to face meetings are put on hold, many kids are maintaining friendships by facetiming, hosting virtual parties, or just increasing virtual contact.
“I’ve been spending more time with my family, which is nice, but I do miss seeing friends from school,” Samantha Kozlowski, a Seaholm sophomore, said.
Kozlowski is not alone in expressing the desire to see school friends. Leslie said “I actually want to have school this fall. I think that after all this, the world will have to have more and better plans for how to deal with things like this in the future, and that our own government can adapt to be able to better handle these kinds of situations”.
As quarantine stretches longer and longer and as American citizens see the impacts that a pandemic will have on the world, one is left to wonder what changes will be made by the government to lessen the harm a worldwide catastrophe will leave us.
Score said, “I have to believe that there has to be good things to come out of this. The downtrodden in our country-the ones that live with many others in a house and can’t get social distancing, that can’t afford to go to the doctor and not go to work-now all of a sudden the more affluent people are more aware of these people, thinking the quality of their life is going to affect my chances of getting the virus. So maybe this will make us all more aware of the state of other people’s lives.”