Editorial: COVID19 can’t take away our community

Editorial%3A+COVID19+cant+take+away+our+community

It was only two months ago when mentions of Coronavirus (COVID-19) first appeared in the footnotes of a New York Times morning briefing. Within two months, the virus spread past its origins in Wuhan, China to nearly every continent. According to research done by Johns Hopkins, there are a total of 318,000 confirmed cases world-wide: 13,000 deaths and 97,000 recoveries as of Sunday, March 22.
Augustana joined other institutions earlier this month when it announced an extended spring break, and later, that classes were going online. For many of us, the transition was sudden and year-changing. We returned to our homes in shock, full of dread at the uncertainty this virus brought.
For seniors, we experienced a different kind of despair: one that realized slowly all the goodbyes we would never be able to give properly. Within one day, we said goodbye to our professors, friends and loved ones.
We said goodbye to senior inquiry presentations, Greek activations and formals, ensemble performances, community gatherings like Buckethead and SloughFest and RIBCO Thursday, future-planning sessions at CORE, senior Slough jumps, last-supper “chicken tendies” at the CSL, midnight talks with our roommates, hand-holds with our partners down the quad, Free Pie Wednesdays at Village Inn and more.
Those goodbyes happened while we were still unaware of them.
We were robbed of our rituals, but the worst part is that this is no one’s fault. We are safer apart as this virus looks for hosts: our administrators chose health and safety above all, and they should be recognized for that. We are all trying our best to adapt right now.
During this time, we must choose life. We cannot let our grief distract us from the community that we still have even though we are apart from each other. Our community is bigger than the grief we may be feeling.
We are still Augie students no matter where we are; it is up to us now to keep our love of learning and compassion for each other alive.
As Augie students, here are three practices we at the Observer have been employing as we move together into the unknown:

  • Exercising gratitude and acknowledging our privilege
    • While we have been uprooted from our campus, many of us still have access to food, water, shelter, and loved ones during this time. We stand with those of our community who may be returning to unsafe living situations and recognize their struggle. We stand with those who may not have access to nutritious food or clean water or even income right now. Every day we are breathing is one for which we can express gratitude.
    • Health professionals and grocery store workers have been hard pressed to work and provide care to people during quarantine. Take some time to thank someone who’s still working to keep us safe and please for the love of Pete do not hoard toilet paper.
    • Stay home! Social distancing is not about you but about other people who may be more susceptible to contracting the virus. Avoid public spaces and areas that are densely populated; stay away from people you meet and let’s all do our part to “flatten the curve.”
  • Using our time more mindfully
    • During this time away from classes and work obligations, we have the unique opportunity to slow down and focus on things we were “too busy” for in the past. Share how you’re feeling, process by journaling, experiment with cooking and baking, clean, draw and knit and make art, meditate, exercise and do yoga.
    • Carve out some time to spend AWAY FROM SCREENS. This can be difficult because our workloads and recreation are both now on our laptops and phones. Remember that this time will pass and that we can improve our health (mental, emotional and physical) by staying hopeful and conscious apart from our screens.
  • Checking in on our loved ones
    • In moderation, social media can be a helpful tool to connect with other people throughout the quarantine. It can also provide us with inspiration for projects and windows to other places we cannot travel now.
    • Communicate with friends through FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, and any other channels of face chat. You are not alone; we are all in this together.

 
Stay tuned for further Observer coverage this week, including a video on Tuesday with 35 Observer-approved things to keep you healthy during quarantine.
Take care of yourselves and the ones around you,
The Observer Editorial Board
 
Graphic by Kevin Donovan