The day I went into quarantine also happened to be my birthday. I spent turning 17 sulking on the flight back from the Student Television Network competition in DC. When we landed, I hugged a few friends goodbye and left. I didn’t even think to turn around or have a second goodbye hug. It’s now been 264 days since my last hug (not from my parents, of course) and for someone who’s love language comes in the high five/hug variety, I am losing it. Although I am an in-person learner, I follow the CDC guidelines very strictly. Everyone exists with a glass wall between us in my eyes. The problem is, as in-person learners have grown more comfortable, this glass wall has begun to fade. So, here’s your CDC watchdog saying: let’s not get too close for comfort, no matter how terrifying your “days since last hug” count rises.
The first week of school everyone seemed to have their masks glued to their faces. Now, a few months later, people are a little more comfortable with waiting until they get to their next class before they pull up their mask above their nose. Or, worse, they eat food or drink in the halls while walking between people. As more people decide to go in-person, the space in the halls shrinks from 6-feet-apart to 1-foot-if-you-round-up-apart. When people take off their masks to eat or drink during this time, they endanger the people who are walking around them. It’s not lunch where people are given assigned seats or even in your class where there are designated people in a specific radius. Doing this during the class change can create trouble with contact tracing.
This newfound carelessness is accounted for in our fight or flight response. Amita Health explains there are actually four possible responses to danger: fight, flight, freeze or faun. As people begin growing more comfortable and losing attentiveness to our eminent viral threat, we choose “faun” which is where we give in to the threat. We need to remain strong and keep up our strict following of guidelines.
Now, back to the hug thing. While it’s fine to get close to people you are quarantining with or even people who you have in your regular, inner circle, however, more and more people are growing comfortable with interacting normally with each other even if they are not within each other’s “inner circle.” More and more people are hugging in the hallways, even the side-hug greeting for strangers. I know the struggle of wanting to hug people as a greeting but we can’t slip up. We need to keep giving people elbow high fives and waves from apart instead. It’s too risky to get comfortable.
Further, we need to make sure not to seek normalcy in risky behavior like attending parties. A University School student held a Halloween party which caused the school to shut down for weeks. Although we haven’t needed to shut down completely, we need to stay careful to stay on track with this trend. Regarding parties like University School’s, Upper School Principal Ms. Elise Blum is aware that some of our students are also in attendance.
“I mean, when we find out about parties, we shut them down, like we got a tip on a party last weekend, and we sent the police and they closed it down. But I don’t know what happens after the police break up a party,” Ms. Blum said.
Ms. Blum realizes it’s difficult for us to deal with our social aspects of high school getting completely altered. We need to stay strong though for the sake of safety.
“It’s unfortunate, because, you know, you guys are probably going to be fine if you get it,” Ms. Blum said. “But then people who you can infect, could end up being really sick. And that’s what gets me upset, because our teachers are really kind of like risking their lives to come to school. So it’s really important that we do what we can to keep everyone healthy.”
One of Heritage’s three key words in our motto is compassion. In regards to fighting COVID-19, we need to stress compassion for one another and follow guidelines surrounding public health concerns.
Heritage students aren’t the only ones starting to experience COVID-19 caution fatigue (yes, it has a name). It’s become a constant conversation topic in colleges specifically. Northwestern discusses solutions to newfound apathy: put risks into perspective, stop consuming media that makes you desensitized to the virus and upkeep mental health. UCDavis suggests exercise, talking and keeping mindfulness. So, next time you’re thinking of engaging in risky behavior during our pandemic, consider a tip from one of our guidance counselor’s wellness Wednesdays videos on WAHS instead.
“You know, it’s not that hard. We made it easy,” Ms. Blum said. “But we again have to rely on people to make good choices because we don’t have the ability to control people’s behavior over vacation. And again, what we’re hopeful for is that even if they do make bad choices and become infected, we feel that the measures we’ve placed on campus are helping to ensure that it’s not spreading here on campus.”
Although it’s not fun to remain tense, for the safety of our community we need to take the required precautions and stay apart. So, to my fellow in-person peers, have fun in-person but still keep with the tedious adherence to CDC guidelines you complied with our first week back.