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Return: A Perspective On The Era of Social Distancing
Creighton Arrington

OPINION:
After a week of social distancing, self-quarantine, and distance learning, we are all thoroughly annoyed. There is such a tremendous lack of information, of course we are freaking out. We don’t know when we are returning. Everyone has a different theory, but no one has the authority to make that decision. In the meantime, the only thing we can do is look for silver linings.

For one, we get to sleep in. “School nights” don’t really exist in the quarantine. For better or worse, we can snack whenever we please. No more are the five-minute power walks between Academic and Roddy. However, those nominal perks pale in comparison to the miasma of uncertainty.

I can’t guarantee when we will return, nor can I guarantee that the foreseeable future will be a pleasant one. I can guarantee that when we do return, there will be a universal boost in morale. It seems that everyone right now is sick with missing school. This is an equal opportunity crisis; both introverts and extroverts are getting eaten up by this “quarantine.” We’re doing all we can to keep our sanity, but this virus seems to break even the most stoic of us.

The best part of my day is when I Zoom in to my English class. I get to see everyone and hear their silly jokes and see their little dogs. I never realized how much I actually liked school.

We took our last moments for granted. On Friday March 13 – what some students have affectionately named Coronaday – we cried and said our goodbyes, but we still didn’t quite believe what was happening. I don’t know if the Dining Hall staff made chicken sandwiches on purpose, or if it was just by chance, but I’m not going to complain. Stress eating seemed like a valid coping mechanism at the time. I can’t recall exactly with whom I ate, but I know who wasn’t there. Some of the boarders left early Friday morning. Over half of my fencing team are international boarders, so this virus got personal. Our season, our championship, got ripped away. Though, I’m not sure how much despair I’m allowed right now; I never ate lunch with those boarders anyway. We don’t think about it in the moment, but our Dining Hall can be very separated.

I guarantee that when we return, our lunch tables will be more inclusive. After this tumultuous time of social distancing and home schooling, we are going to be so happy to be back in school. We are going to be hugging and laughing. We are going to do our work and engage in class. We are going to love our teachers and our parents.

It doesn’t take a sleuth to see the ennui we are bogged down by. It is to the point where if you can blindfold yourself and still navigate from your bedroom to the kitchen, you need to go for a walk. After only a week of quarantine, some dedicated players have created a 1:1 scale of earth in Minecraft. Out of tedium and frustration, we have built a new earth. Think about that for two seconds and tell me, with a straight face, that you are not bored.

When this is over – when we can break our six-foot radii – things will be different. There will be more respect for our parents. There will be more respect for our teachers. There will be more respect for the blue-collar workers who kept us alive when we couldn’t leave our homes. There will be more respect for our grandparents and their droning stories about life before cell phones.

There will be more respect for our environment; you can see the clear skies and translucent waters teeming with life in our absence. It now falls to us to find and sustain that respect. Maybe after this, we won’t be falling asleep in chapel.

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