September 21, 2020
It is no secret to any American that life as we know it has been completely altered by the spread of Covid-19. No one has been left unaffected. However, responses to these changes have been wildly different. Many have bunkered down and prepared for a catastrophic, apocalyptic outcome, while others have acted as if nothing is different. In fact, many people have started to become even more active and reckless as a sort of political statement.
Needless to say, the virus has turned into an extremely polarising topic. While many have safely adjusted to the new norms of life amidst a pandemic, many others have chosen this time to wear their political stances on their sleeves. Regardless of the hot takes and polarised opinions involved in these increasingly surreal circumstances, one thing remains more or less constant for everyone; we miss normal life. Most if not all Americans are anxious and eager to return to the regular circumstances in place before Covid-19 swept the nation. And with the beginning of a new school year, this seems to many like the perfect time to start making that transition.
But clearly, it’s not that simple. The idea that external human circumstances change the realities of a very non-human disease is ludicrous. The fact of the matter is that Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, regardless of a new school year, another sports season, or an increase in general public impatience. That lack of connection should be obvious, hence why the majority of schools and school districts (including Riverside Unified School District) have yet to reopen their gates to students. There is almost no better setting for a virus to spread than a crowded public school. Unfortunately though, this thinking has not been unanimously adopted. Most states have chosen a policy where school reopenings are determined by school districts and their local health authorities. Some states, like California and Hawaii, have allowed reopenings based on regional coronavirus statistics but commanded schools to remain closed if those given standards haven’t been met. Other states, like New Mexico and West Virginia, have simply mandated statewide school closures. On the opposite side of that, however, states like Texas and Arkansas have ordered all public schools to provide in-person schooling and instruction. This is particularly troubling, as it’s one thing when in-person schooling is provided as an option for those who want to take that risk; however, when it’s compulsory, states are essentially coordinating another wave of outbreak. There have already been an abundance of school-related outbreaks in states like Georgia and Michigan and if schools continue to push reopening many experts predict more of the same. Again, while our schedules and human circumstances may be changing, this virus is certainly not following suit. However badly we may want to force our impatient desires and put our own timer on the coronavirus, that simply isn’t a practical way of thinking.
If we want to overcome this ever consuming disease, without maximizing its destruction, we’re going to have to diligently continue combatting it smartly and safely. Countries like New Zealand and South Korea have shown that, with committed action and diligence, the spread of Covid can be effectively mitigated. While the U.S. has quite a ways to go before we can reach that point, we still must remain vigilant and firm in our resolve. While it may be tempting to assume routine conditions should return sooner rather than later and that we can start loosening restrictions to fit around our lives, that just isn’t a change that we can safely make on our own accord. Continued commitment is the only way we’ll expedite and improve the road back to a pre-Covid world. Whether that be beginning the school year virtually, holding off on parties and social gatherings or just wearing a mask when we go out, we have simply made too much progress thus far to jump the gun and undo the efforts that’ve been made to keep our nation healthy and fight against this unprecedented enemy.