Believe it or not, the easy part of this pandemic may be over. For the past eight or so weeks, all we’ve needed to do was stay at home and follow basic protocol, such as covering our mouths when we sneeze or cough, washing our hands thoroughly after and when we go outside. Now is the time where we reach a crossroads, as the White House and prominent governors like Andrew Cuomo (D. NY) and Gavin Newsom (D. CA) try to figure out a way to return back to normal life and slowly reopen non-essential businesses without causing a relapse in new cases.
As the weather begins warming, it will be interesting to see two things: how governments enforce social distancing guidelines and see if people cooperate or not.
For seven iSchoolers, how the world will look after the virus remains a concern.
For example, one student felt that a lockdown should be mandatory, similar to how the city of Wuhan, China handled its outbreak.
“I believe a mandatory lockdown in NYC is needed,” said Hanna Kessler-Karp, a freshman. “The only people who need to be working outside their homes right now are nurses, doctors and delivery people,”
China was the first country to record an outbreak of COVID-19, and when their numbers skyrocketed, took extreme measures to slow the spread of the virus. China is now beginning to resume normal life because of the success of these drastic measures.
Even though a mandatory lockdown is unlikely to work here, 72.5% of 51 iSchoolers are in support of a similar policy. One of those students is Chi-Chi Ezekwenna, a junior. “Before (the virus) got big, I thought the way Wuhan was treating its citizens was excessive but it actually turned out to be successful,” she said. “The reason I want it to happen here is we’re doing an optional and suggested quarantine and not all people are following the guidelines.”
Another student who believes a mandatory lockdown is necessary is Lucy McGee, a freshman. “I think a complete lockdown would be pretty extreme but I think it would help a lot, and be a little essential,” she said. “There are a lot of people going outside and hanging out with friends and it’s making this quarantine longer than it needs to be.”
iSchoolers also expressed their frustration with people who went outside without a mask. In a Google Form sent out to the whole school, 81.6% of 51 iSchoolers who answered the form stated they felt frustrated when they saw people outside without a mask or not socially distancing. “I think they are being a bit selfish and petty and even if you don’t have a mask you can use any piece of cloth,” said Shanee Krichely, a sophomore.
Amelia Lee, a junior, said she feels that people who don’t wear a mask are putting themselves and others who are more vulnerable in danger. “The longer people wait to take precautions, the more deaths we’re going to have,” she said.
Some students think the reason people aren’t wearing masks is because those in power aren’t taking it seriously. One of those people is Lucas Kulin, a senior. “People should wear masks, but when you look at what the people who enforce quarantine are doing, I don’t think it matters too much because our leaders are acting careless,” he said, citing times where people like Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump have been seen in public without masks. “Those who make the rules should be the ones who follow the strictest.”
iSchoolers shared a number of insightful ways that the government and those in power could help matters. In the Google Form sent out, 92.3% of those who responded said there was a way the government could better handle this pandemic. “I think essential workers should get paid more than what they are already getting because they are risking their lives for us every day by keeping us healthy, safe and fed,” said Kessler-Karp.
Another iSchooler who has many ideas for how the government could’ve done things differently is Vera Topcik, a junior. “The government should create a plan that sets guidelines for the best way to social distance,” she said via email. “People should feel alarmed, because this is a really bad situation, but they should also feel secure about the fact that the government is doing everything they can to solve this crisis.”
It’s for sure going to be weird when schools hopefully reopen and a vaccine becomes available as a treatment to the virus, but it’s comforting to know two things: doctors have a better understanding on how to treat severe cases than they did in March, and probability graphs show a decreased chance that the virus affects those who wear a mask and stay six feet away from others. The number of new cases and hospitalizations are dropping daily in New York, and testing is becoming increasingly more available. This will be comforting as we make our way back to normal life.