Friday the 13th : March, 2020
We find ourselves in a world where a virus known as COVID-19 has slowly started spreading around the world. It started out in small pockets in China in January. It was not yet a world wide concern, it was something that was talked about on the news, but it never affected anyone’s daily lives where I lived. As the virus started to spread to other countries like Italy, Spain, and India, people started to get more concerned about the state of the world, but it still didn’t affect many people in the United States. However, by late February, we started to hear about people getting sick from the Virus in the United States. With the virus causing a respiratory illness, some of the early symptoms included cough, shortness of breath, and fever. The virus differed greatly from the flu because it’s rate of spread was much higher. After hearing this news, people started stocking up on materials, to prepare for possible quarantine. However, a vast majority didn’t anticipate anything severe, believing the disease would end it’s reign of terror shortly, with only a few people sick in the United States. However, multiple clusters of positive cases started popping up in the US, and Italy was getting worse and worse by day. To shy away from grim possibilities, we underestimated the virus. But this change in view didn’t stop the rise in deaths and infections in the world. In early March, as things were getting worse, my school presented a pandemic action plan. The first stage of the action plan was dubbed monitoring. This meant that the school district would closely watch the news, and make sure everyone was maintaining good hygiene. This stage only lasted a few weeks. The second and third stages of the action plan were named limiting and postponing respectively. This meant that activities with large gatherings of people were avoided or postponed. This stage swept by very quickly, and the final closure stage of the action plan was put into place. Schools in the entire state of Pennsylvania would be closed, for two weeks.
On my last Friday before school closure, things didn’t seem out of the ordinary. There was a hushed buzz of chatter during first period Physics. As we were working on a lab, my teammates and I were discussing the possibility of school closing. We were still confused and not sure if anything of the sort would happen. Still, there was an air of excitement in the room, as we were going to get an unexpected break from school for the next two weeks. This feeling of excitement, confusion, and uncertainty flowed into most of the day. As I walked into the lunchroom, I spoke with some of my friends about what we were going to do. We planned to face-time each other and hang out virtually, as with the school closure, there would be significantly less work. Before we left the room, we were told to take some disinfectant wipes and wipe down every surface of the table we sat at. We were unfocused for most of the day after this. During my last period of the day, as we were running on the treadmills during gym, we heard an echoing voice thunder through all the halls of the building. “….We just want you to know that everything will be alright. However, in order to follow the DASD Pandemic Action Plan, please take everything you brought with you home today. This is just an extra precaution, and hopefully, we will see you on Monday.” The Monday we expected never came.