Reflections on COVID-19

One+of+the+signs+around+campus+encouraging+students+to+wash+their+hands.+

One of the signs around campus encouraging students to wash their hands.

With the coronavirus situation having reached pandemic status, people around me are increasingly beginning to worry, and I’m wondering if I should, too. 

In just the last week, campus dining locations have implemented stricter rules, face-to-face classes and meetings have been moved to online platforms for students and faculty, and a large chunk of students have chosen to go home until further updates from the school are sent out. 

For weeks I have heard of other schools dealing with similar circumstances, but I wasn’t convinced it would happen here, too, until it did. Now that cases of coronavirus in Pennsylvania have increased to 63 as of Sunday evening. I haven`t been able to hold a conversation with anyone without COVID-19 coming up.

It’s not only on campus where the effects of coronavirus panic can be seen. 

New updates are constantly coming in on the news, businesses are being temporarily shut down, hospitals are packed, and good luck trying to find a bottle of Tylenol, roll of toilet paper, or sack of flour in any store. Shelves usually stocked with home essentials are completely empty, with some stores posting signs saying that they will not be receiving replacement for weeks. (Which makes me wonder how much toilet paper you actually need to battle corona, anyway.) 

What I’m most worried about at this time is the transition from face-to-face classes to online classes. 

I hadn’t gotten much instruction on how to use Zoom, the program provided by Moravian College, prior to the announcement that classes would be moved online. From talking with other students, many of us are in the same boat. (The Comenian is here to help with this useful article on Zoom beginners!) 

There is also something special about in-class discussion and lectures that you can’t get through online platforms. Being in an actual classroom keeps me focused on the course material and helps me to engage better with my peers. 

During online sessions, I’ll just be in my dorm room, which is full of distractions, but my options are slim when it comes to alternative locations given that we are supposed to stay inside of our buildings as much as possible. Hopefully, professors will be understanding of these things as we continue into the semester. 

As for the coronavirus itself, I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t worried.

Despite the great weather we’ve been having, public areas are relatively crowd-free. Where I live on South Campus, students would usually be out in the hammocks, lying in the sun. Instead, everyone has either gone home or is locked in their rooms. 

My suite mates and I have been cleaning our suite daily, and we all went to the store to stock up on whatever food was available to carry us through the next two weeks. Dining halls are still an option, but those too are relatively empty, which makes me feel that I should probably just eat at my dorm anyway to avoid contact with others. 

This whole thing is starting to feel like the beginning of some doomsday novel.

In the words of President Bryon Grigsby, “I have heard ‘rumblings’ about” coronavirus not being a big deal on the basis that more people die from the flu, and that people are overreacting. 

Regardless of whatever the mortality rate of coronavirus is, however, we need to make sure that people are safe. It would be irresponsible to have thousands of people out of work and school — and some dying — because we didn’t take precautionary measures. 

Even though online classes are awkward and social distancing is a drag, these things are important in keeping us safe at this time. I’m positive that the virus will continue to get worse in the coming weeks, so I am curious to see what Moravian’s plan is going to be when that time comes. 

In the meantime, the least we can do is wash our hands and keep our distance.