There is no doubt about it – it has been a strange year. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have been oscillating between in-person and remote learning. Since September of 2020, I have been learning remotely to keep my little brother, who is at higher risk because of his asthma, safe. I do not regret this decision: while I may have missed out on some of the typical activities of in-person learning, safety is most important and, despite how it may feel at the time, life goes on. I have enjoyed school this year greatly, despite its challenges: I feel like the pandemic has forced me to effectively deal with problems that I can’t necessarily solve, and, above all, learn to relax.
I cannot help but wonder what life must have been like in past pandemics. Around the time of the Bubonic Plague – fearfully known as the Black Death (will the people of tomorrow come up with their own moniker for COVID-19 as it attenuates?) – not many people went to school, so that wouldn’t have been an issue. But life, quite simply, stopped. There was next-to-no hope to survive the infection, considering the state of medicine at the time – in Europe, your only option was to find a butcher to bleed the demons out of you. I can’t help but think how hopeless life during Black Death must have been: people were basically holed up in their houses, simply trying to eke out another day, with no hope of a cure.
Things are different today. With the advanced state of healthcare, there is hope that we can prevent and treat COVID-19 (not cure – that’s not how it works!). As students and teachers start to get their first dose of the new COVID-19 vaccination, there is hope that the 2021-2022 school year will be a “return to normalcy.” But we must not forget to take these basic safety precautions so that we may achieve that normalcy we are so striving for: if we forget to wear our masks and wash our hands today, then we are only drawing out the pandemic tomorrow.
Above all, I would like to thank my teachers for being so supportive during these difficult times. You have worked so hard to make this a great year, and I thank you for that.