On Jan. 24, Harker Aquila ran its first story on the coronavirus outbreak, reporting 1,287 worldwide cases. Over the next month and a half, we watched — and continued reporting — as the virus traveled around the world, creeping closer and closer to home in what felt like a hyperreal sci-fi movie.
It still seemed distant, but we took precautions as the headlines morphed around us. Teachers began sanitizing their classrooms daily. The annual Synopsys science fair moved online. The cafeteria limited self-serve options.
Then, two weeks ago, everything turned upside down.
On March 12, as seventh period wound down, the announcement finally arrived: the relative of a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19. We found out that school would be canceled the following day (a Friday), that the campus would be closed to students and that we would be learning remotely until at least spring break.
A flurry of confused emotions followed, ranging from anxiety to mild enthusiasm. For most of us, those varying initial reactions have since transformed into genuine fear, both of the virus and the unprecedented uncertainty that it has created.
We’re on the wrong side of the movie screen now, and we’re scared.
Fear is natural in such uncertain times. The worldwide case count has ballooned to nearly 600,000, with 574 of those within Santa Clara County itself. California, the fifth-largest economy in the world, has come to a grinding halt with Gov. Newsom’s shelter-in-place directive.
We want someone to tell us that it’s all going to be over soon, that in six weeks, the world will, at the snap of a finger, return to normalcy — but it won’t.
Concrete pillars that we’ve always leaned on are flexing. SATs and APs, the once-inevitable, immovable banes of our existence are cowering, either being canceled entirely or moving online. Professional sports leagues, such as the NBA and MLB, have postponed their seasons. Our teachers are lecturing over Zoom. For many of us, our parents are now at home all the time, worried about their jobs and businesses.
People we care about — friends, teachers, neighbors — seem a lot further than just six feet away. COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world, and we can’t help but wonder: will it hit someone I love?
So, we have to be brave in our own ways. Bravery is waking up every day, getting dressed and attending classes on Zoom. Bravery is staying home, FaceTiming friends and helping save lives by flattening the curve. Although simple, this is the everyday bravery we need.
Each of us also must take care of both ourselves and our community at this time. Here are some ways to do that:
• Stick to a daily routine. Get enough sleep, which serves to both reduce stress and increase immune system responsiveness. Go outside and exercise, which boosts levels of mood-elevating endorphins.
• Volunteer, perhaps by signing up to tutor middle school students.
• Support local businesses by ordering takeout or purchasing gift cards.
• Donate to medical funds and foundations such as the CDC Foundation, the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund or any of the many organizations providing the critical assistance necessary to combat the virus.
• Speak up against the misplaced fear that has manifested nationally in despicable incidents of xenophobia against people of Asian descent.
• Create moments of gratitude, like upper school advisories did this week with videos thanking medical personnel for their work.
Everyone is scared. But life goes on, and courage reveals itself in different ways. It shines through our teachers, who have rapidly pivoted into online classrooms to help us learn remotely. It shines through our administrators, who have charted the school’s course with emergency meetings. It shines through Student Council and Spirit, who have helped keep the community close from afar.
Bravery is not just found on the front lines. It’s about getting up every day, washing your hands, doing schoolwork and staying home. It’s okay to be scared — but in these trying times, it’s more important than ever to remember that your actions matter. It’s more important than ever to be brave.