“Welcome to your first day of distance learning,” read students around the globe. Suddenly computer monitors were switched on, iPads got unplugged from chargers and desks became replaced by pillows and couch cushions.
Coronavirus disease 2019, coined COVID-19 by the World Health Organization, is a respiratory illness that was first identified during an investigation into a viral outbreak in Wuhan China, according to the Center for Disease Control. Primarily affecting the respiratory system, COVID-19 symptoms range from a runny nose and sore throat in mild cases to fever, dry cough and tiredness, and can eventually lead to pneumonia in both lungs, organ failure and in some cases, death.
Though not confirmed, the first case of corona, called ‘patient zero,’ traces all the way back to a resident of Hubei, China, on Nov. 17, suggested by government records. Since then, scientists and doctors alike began to track the disease as it navigated its way through the first major epicenter: the central China city of Wuhan. By Dec. 31 the Chinese government alerted the WHO of the outbreak, and in the weeks following countless other countries began reporting their first cases. By Jan. 21, the US found it’s first case in Washington state after a man returned home from visiting Wuhan, and a little over a month later, on Feb. 29, the first US death was reported in the same state. On Mar. 11, the WHO announced that COVID-19 would be considered a pandemic, which, in essence, means that the disease had reached national levels of severity. As of the beginning of April, the confirmed number of cases worldwide passed one million, and nearly every country around the world has taken measures to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Once this pandemic reached the US many universities and high schools began to consider the option of temporarily closing to allow for deep cleaning procedures to occur, but as the disease progressed further, the severity of these closures became more apparent, eventually leading to the Florida Department of Education to release an official statement of closure for middle and high schools around the state on Mar. 17. Finally, on Mar. 31, this closure was extended to May 1 throughout the state.
After these statements, along with the statements from the bishop through the Diocese of Saint Augustine, were released Bishop Kenny followed suit, temporarily cancelling all school events and initiating the plan of “distance learning,” where students use online resources to learn at home rather than physically going to school.
These closures had momentous effects internationally, but on a smaller scale, impacted the class of 2020 in life-changing ways. From prom to grad bash, schools like Bishop Kenny cancelled once in a lifetime events indefinitely because of the effects of COVID-19. Though disheartening, schools and communities alike are hoping to come up with solutions and alternatives to the events missed, and are looking to students to be patient and optimistic for the future.
Academic advisor and school guidance counselor Scott Sberna sympathizes with the senior class as they finish the end of their year alone.
“I would label the class of 2020 as the toughest, most resilient, had to deal with the most, as long as I can remember,” Sberna said. “Your class is going to be prepared more than any other class for everything that is going to come your way in life.”
Like many other people, Sberna is eager to see this national issue get resolved as soon as possible, but hopes that the senior class will remain resilient through it all.
“Now the class of 2020 will always be remembered as that, as the ones that didn’t get to do the traditional things, but it’s a sacrifice you have to do for society as a whole.” Sberna said. “You can’t just give up.”