Navigating school in the unique time of the Covid pandemic has been stressful and cluttered like this desk. (Nick Marinaro)
Navigating school in the unique time of the Covid pandemic has been stressful and cluttered like this desk.

Nick Marinaro

COVID and BSM: It’s been a year

April 6, 2021

Covid: A Year in Review

Way back in December 2019, news surfaced that a virus had begun spreading throughout Eastern Asia. Little did we know a global pandemic was soon to ensue and pandemonium would follow. The virus in its early stages and presence in the media seemed to be isolated within the confines of Wuhan, China and other cities around it. Fast forward to March of 2021, and the virus has reached nearly every country, taking the lives of millions and completely devastating the global economy. Throughout the past year or so, a timeline of events related to the coronavirus wrote itself. Though it may be difficult to remember all events that have snowballed up until this point, the most significant of the several proceedings have been plotted. Here’s a look back at the most noteworthy occurrences.

 

December – The beginning

As mentioned earlier, coronavirus-related media appeared in late December of 2019 when disease struck the numerous poultry and fish markets in Eastern Asia—mainly China. The “sickness” ridden markets were initially believed to be infested with air-born pneumonia. It wasn’t until December 31st when government officials in Wuhan reported they were treating dozens of people for an unknown virus. At this point, health officials in china said their main priority was to stop the spread of the virus before it became something more “severe.”

 

January – First Demise

After Chinese Health officials did their best at attempting to contain and regulate the spread and effects of the virus, the first death due to the virus occurred on January 11, 2020. The first victim was a regular dweller at the Chinese markets. This information seemed to sicknesses originated from the markets in late 2019. This death came days before millions of Chinese residents would be out and about for Chinese New Year.

Weeks after the first demise, deaths totaled almost two dozen, and those infected ranged close to the thousands. Cases spread even more outward than China as well. The virus reached U.S. soil within a month of its first appearance. After multiple nations had become victims of the virus, the World Health Organization declared a “global health emergency.” Soon after, countries began closing their borders to ensure the spread of the virus would halt, including the U.S. when the Trump Administration limited travel in and out of the country.

 

February – Nameless No More

When calendars turned the page to February, 360 people’s lives had been claimed by the virus. These deaths were no longer confined to China. On February 2, 2020, it was reported that a man in the Philippines had died from the virus. After this monumental detection, doctors began to wonder if the virus’s path of destruction could have been predicted and if the Chinese government could have botched the entire regulating situation.

On February 11, 2020, the virus that had claimed the lives of nearly a thousand and was finally given a name—Covid-19, an acronym standing for coronavirus disease 2019. Shortly after Covid-19’s naming, new findings surrounding the virus’s devastation raised. Covid-19 had now claimed the lives of European residents, especially those in France and in Italy. 

By the end of February, Covid-19 had reached nations such as France, Italy, Iran, and the United States and the number of cases surged insane amounts in each one.

 

March – Home Sweet Home

The month of March was relatively similar from day one all the way until the thirty-first; it had a recurring theme, stop the spread of Covid-19 at all costs. The C.D.C. had the largest say in how states and nations should approach the swirling virus—stay home and avoid large groups. By March 15th, governments enacted mandates affirming how many people could be in groups and when folks could leave their homes. These nations also began enacting total shutdowns in an attempt to alienate the virus from the public altogether. The production of cleaning products and sickness protection wear ramped up tremendously, and so did the demand for such, so much so that prices increased and the stock was extremely limited and a face mask became part of your daily outfit for what seemed to be the indefinite future. 

 

April – Okay, Joke’s Over!

Home-ridden, scared, and jobless—these are key themes seen in April of 2020. Though the majority of nations decided to home-rid their citizens, cases still reached new heights. Infected persons around the globe now scratched seven figures. With the help of the U.S., China, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Italy, France, and plenty more countries, global deaths totaled more than 200,000 by April 26th, 2020. At the end of April, the spread of Covid-19 was categorized as a global pandemic.

 

May – “Recession-Shmession” 

The writing of the pandemic timeline was well on its way when previous medical records and reports proved the coronavirus moved from Wuhan to bordering nations well before we may have thought. Cases deemed as Pneumonia in late December in countries such as France and in Italy were now easily identifiable as Covid-19 infections. With this new information in mind, the substandard prevention of the virus had become more and more evident. Just four months after the first reported case in the U.S., the U.S. death total reached 100,000.

 

June, July, and August – “It’s Summer! What could go wrong?”

By early June, the coronavirus’s wrath was more than familiar to almost all countries across the entirety of the globe. Its “efficiency” reached new heights, or in simpler terms, its daily infection rate extended to 100,000 new contagions per day. According to the W.H.O., Countries that lay in the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, South Asia, and North America aided in this contagion rate the most.

As the months changed, so did regulations. Almost immediately after June turned to July, July 1st to be exact, the European Union decided it was time to aid the economy in its resurgence by reopening its borders to specific countries in an attempt to spark touristic action within European countries. 

Aside from Europe’s decision to partially reopen its borders, other nations remained far behind Europe in their progress to get things back to the way they were. The U.S., for one, continued to shatter records related to the Covid-19 outbreak. Six out of the 50 U.S. states reported new single-day highs in cases for the seventh time in 11 days. The spread of the virus grew even more rapidly in the southern and western parts of the United States.

During this global pandemic, Covid-19 did much more than infect a large portion of the earth’s population; it tattered the global economy, left millions unemployed, and even forced people to sell the large majority of their possessions just to stay afloat during these tough times. More than five million Americans lost health and insurance and thousands lost much more—their homes and their loved ones. 

As the end of July approached, reaching more than a million cases in a singular country began routine, and people around the globe began to fear the world may never be the same.

August followed the trend of the other previous months in the sense that shutdowns, regulations, etc. were at all-time highs. Universities began moving classes to all online and sports during the time were either completely shut down or serious equipment mandates were put in place in order to ensure safety amongst athletes. As regulations increased, so did the global death toll. At the end of the summer, the world had lost over 800,000 people due to the coronavirus.

 

September – What About School?

With summer coming to a close, schools around the globe began opening up just as they did before the induction of Covid-19 into countless lands—well, sort of, mask mandates seemed to be law at this point and social distancing became human practice and nature. As September neared its end, the global death toll now surpassed one million and it didn’t look like it would stop at any time soon.

 

October – Bedtime Already?!

Cases continued to rise in the month of October, and with incredible speed as well. The world recorded more than one million new cases in just three days. How did the world react to this, you may ask? Well, nations across the globe decided to implement curfews to guarantee the reduction of case spikes.

 

November and December – Testing… testing…

Throughout the months of November and December Covid-19 testing became easier to get your hands on. Tests were now able to be taken at your own home via the spit test and the self-swabbing kits. Aside from testing to see if you have Covid-19, labs began testing vaccines to protect against the virus altogether.

On December 11, the F.D.A. finally approved a vaccine for emergency use against the infamous Covid-19. The most vulnerable people within the population began taking the vaccine within days of its approval. This vaccine was rolled out in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Saudi Arabia and others. Even with the addition of the vaccine to this small portion of the public, death tolls still broke 300,000 by the end of December.

 

January – “You get a vaccine, you get a vaccine, you all (kind of) get a vaccine!”

By mid-January, vaccine campaigns became crucial points of discussions amongst 42+ countries around the world and the need for the vaccine became more demanding—reason being new strands of the coronavirus such as 501.v2 began infecting more and more people each day and researchers were still unaware if the current vaccine prevented it. 

 Just to top off the month of January, the world decided to surpass 100,000,000 total cases of the coronavirus and didn’t show any signs of slowing up.

 

February – “Are we there yet?”

 A year has passed since the World Health Organization announced a global health emergency in relation to a virus we now know very well—Covid-19.

 Just days into February and multiple vaccines have been given stellar efficiency confirmation. In other news, these multiple vaccines have also been rolled out to more people than the number of people said to have been infected with the coronavirus globally. The number of reported cases has also steadily declined for 5 weeks straight now. Could we be nearing the end? 

 

March – Now

Almost a year after countries completely shut down their borders and forced residents to stay in their homes, Covid-19’s spread has slowed immensely and efforts such as research and vaccines have helped these movements effectively and efficiently. As we near the end of March, hopes of the virus’s total elimination are seemingly plausible.

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BSM: A Covid Year in Review

Not only has the Covid pandemic ravaged many areas of the world from a macro standpoint, it has affected communities. Workplaces, homes, faith communities, and schools were all turned upside down by the pandemic. Benilde-St. Margaret’s and its students have been remarkably flexible in their approach to navigating these trying times. Here is a look at the feelings, actions, and adaptations of BSM students throughout the past year. 

December 2019

During this time, BSM students feel the same way about this as they did about the fires in Australia in the same time frame: concern for those affected but not fearful for themselves. Covid is not yet seen as a threat to the United States, let alone BSM students. 

 

January 2020

Covid is appearing more and more on students’ social media feeds. It is becoming less and less of a distant spectacle, especially when the first death occurs. Although students are still hopeful that the novel coronavirus can be contained in China, but it is becoming less and less of a certainty. When President Trump instituted a travel ban, it forced students to realize the immensity of what was afoot. 

 

February 2020

In February, the threat of Covid became real for BSM students. It is beginning to become an uncontrollable freight train, destined to ravage the United States in just a matter of time. This is not lost on BSM and its students, who are beginning to think about what this means for the future. Many conversations are taking place at BSM regarding future actions. “What if it gets to Minnesota?” This was all happening at breakneck speed and by the time Covid got to the United States,  students knew that it was not a matter of if this will sincerely affect their lives, but when. 

 

March 2020

March is when it all went down. The first covid case in Minnesota came March 6th and shortly after, BSM was shut down. This was a surreal time for students; it was unlike anything they had ever experienced. Their lives had been turned upside down in a matter of days. Not only could they not go to school, but they were unable to gather, participate in activities, or go pretty much anywhere. Luckily, BSM was more well equipped for this time than most other high schools. Not only was each student outfitted with their own laptop, but BSM had also previously set up an online school system for snow days. The first version of Extended Online School operated very similarly to that of snow days. Teachers posted the classwork in the beginning of the day along with video help and students were expected to complete it. This was challenging for many students for whom physical learning is especially important. However, it was better than a complete education shutdown. 

 

April 2020

April was when Covid truly began to take its toll on the students. Not only were spring break plans with friends foiled, but most students were unable to see their friends altogether. Their lives have been uprooted. Their favorite activities are shut down. The only silver lining of all of this was that many students picked up a new hobby to pass the time. Some took up cooking, playing an instrument, various arts and crafts, or running outside. It was vital for getting through this time to find something fun to do to take their mind off of the happenings of the world. One other factor that helped many students was a change in the method of online learning. Extended Online School (EOS) 1.0 proved to make learning difficult for many, so after spring break, BSM integrated a new method of online learning, EOS 2.0. EOS 2.0 included mandatory Google meet class periods and a much more traditional learning format. This gave a much-needed shred of normalcy in otherwise trying times. 

 

May 2020

It is said that April showers bring May flowers, but that was certainly not the case with the pandemic. In May, BSM seniors went to school for their final day–online. This was certainly an anticlimactic end to their high school careers and was a difficult way of saying goodbye. As for the rest of the students, they carried on their EOS 2.0 until the end of the school year.

 

June, July, and August 2020

Summer fun was not quite the same in 2020, as with most things. When BSM students got out of EOS, the end of the school year was not as jubilant as in normal years. Now what? Summer travel was most likely out of the question, and there were very few things to do. So BSM students did what they do: adapted. Many flocked to the great outdoors, where they could safely and responsibly partake in activities that did not include sitting on the couch watching Netflix. Toward the end of the summer, many spaces started to open back up, including gyms. It was not a normal summer by any means, but BSM made the most of it. 

 

September 2020

September brought the start of the most uncertain school year in BSM history. Many students would be going back to school, but it would not look normal. Block and hybrid schedules were new adjustments for students in the early fall. As for activities, fall sports were canceled in late August, so the early school year was devoid of the normal excitement of fall sports. However, they were brought back at the end of September, a glimmer of hope in trying times. 

 

October 2020

In October, students had gotten into the groove of hybrid learning and were cruising along in their studies. Although spending every other day at homemade learning trying at times, sometimes the comfort of being able to roll out of bed and join zoom made it all worthwhile.

 

November and December 2020

 Nearing the holidays, students began their second quarter classes––it was an unusual source of interest to get new classes in the middle of a semester. Otherwise, hybrid learning was feeling more and more normal for students, and BSM kept its Covid levels relatively low. The holidays were marked by the abnormality of few gatherings, but still offered some solace as the tumultuous year of 2020 neared its close. 

 

January 2020

As vaccines are beginning to become available, the focus for students has shifted to getting through the (hopefully final) stretch of Covid. 

 

February 2021

Third quarter started, bringing new classes and new challenges. However, with the opportunity to change cohorts to be among friends, quarter three appeared to offer some normality.

 

March 2021

BSM has announced that it will be having all students back at the start of fourth quarter! This, combined with the announcement that vaccines will be available to all people 16 and older starting at the end of the month, have made it appear as though we are through the worst of it. That was quick!

Covid offered the opportunity to adapt education for difficult situations. It was certainly not all bad: the introduction of zoom means that students who are sick can still come to school–in a way. However, BSM students will surely be happy to all meet in person once again!

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