Miscellaneous Shelter-in-Place Notes


Marcella Barneclo

This article features some of the small things I have noticed amidst the pandemic.

The largest element of the Coronavirus quarantine for me so far has been the waiting: waiting to hear news over district changes, waiting for a response from College Board about AP tests, even just waiting for my final college decisions to trickle in as the month winds down.

With the normal routine of day-to-day activities being broken — no more robotics, no hanging out with friends, and of course, no more school — I think many students are caught in a place of limbo. As we are all largely stuck inside and isolated from most forms of face-to-face contact, the pandemic takes on a surreal aspect. All over the media we are blasted by assertions of the virus’s exponential growth and quickening infection rate, but we can only stay inside and watch as businesses, the economy, and society as a whole are taken on an unpredictable ride.

I was on a Reddit post earlier today that showcased newsworthy topics that have been swallowed by coverage of the virus pandemic. I was astounded to find many important and pressing concerns that have been glossed over due to the virus: the EARN IT act — which seeks to destroy end-to-end encryption — (a very bad idea by all accounts according to what I have read) was just proposed in the U.S.; locust swarms in East Africa are causing issues that could lead to major famine; and an oil war between Saudi Arabia and Russia has erupted. Even amidst a global pandemic, life moves on, and the tunnel-vision the media seems to have developed for all things Coronavirus is rather tiring, though I understand the need to keep the public informed.

The entire ordeal has introduced the debate about the role of government in regulating for the public good, balancing individual freedoms with safety. As we go into the third week of stay-at-home protocol, it seems bizarre that some people are still ignoring the calls to social distance. Although I will not speak to the legality of the matter, I can only characterize breaking the shelter-in-place rules for frivolous reasons as selfish. Regardless of whether the government has the authority to limit our individual actions, we ought to respect the safety of others by slowing the spread of the virus.

On another note, school is slowly ramping up to include more assignments and weekly video chats. Given the significant alterations to AP exams — removed content, digital tests, FRQ only assessments — many of my classes have had their curriculum entirely shuffled. For me and many of my friends, this has created confusion and uncertainty on whether or not to cancel our exams (which would be fully refunded because of the virus). With AP exams, finals, and even the grading of normal assignments up in the air, the entire structure of the digital learning process is in flux. I commend all of my teachers for trying to maintain comparable level of education amidst the pandemic.

Aside from digital classes, I am currently working on scholarships, attending (online) accepted student days for my university choices, and programming. I am trying to take the new developments in stride and focusing on a day at a time. As the pandemic continues and we get closer to what would have been graduation and summer, I think the full implications of the pandemic will have more of an effect on me.