I truly wish I did not feel compelled to write this letter. I wish that you all would have more compassion and thoughtfulness for the better well-being of yourself and others. But seeing as this is not the case, I feel I must speak up as someone on your level-a student and non-authoritative individual.
Contrary to popular belief, COVID-19 still poses a momentous threat to our health, education, economy and overall growth. This being said, one of those values is much more important than the others. Our health. Air in our lungs. The economy cannot boom without healthy and protected employees. Students cannot learn without healthy and protected teachers and staff.
Despite numerous warnings and health risks, our governor has begun to open up nonessential businesses. Shopping malls, movie theaters, retail stores, museums and more. Time and time again, our government will choose to save the economy over human lives. As if a beating heart shares the same value as a ticket to see the live-action Mulan. This time of reopening doesn’t mean you’ve been given the green light to carry on with total normalcy. In an executive order from Governor Abbott, he said that we are not prohibited from “accessing essential or reopened businesses…so long as the necessary precautions are maintained to reduce the transmission of COVID- 19 and to minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household.” Tread lightly and keep in mind that after Governor Abbott implemented Phase I of reopening the economy, Texas experienced a spike in cases.
I chose the words “popular belief” in the second paragraph because that’s how many are presenting their takes on COVID-19 via social media. From Snapchat to Instagram to Twitter to TikTok, many are providing visual proof of ignorance. Every time you go hang out with your friends without social distancing, you are making a conscious decision to contribute to the spread of coronavirus. To contribute to the 84,000+ deaths in the U.S. according to NPR.
It was difficult to grasp at first. Why would someone break social-distancing and quarantine orders during a deadly global pandemic? Furthermore, why would someone post online about it? And then it became clear – most simply don’t care.
Some might say those in question aren’t aware that their actions have consequences. But I don’t believe that. COVID-19 news has been plastered on everyone’s televisions, phone screens, laptops, etc. every single day whether we searched for it or not. Ignorance is bliss. It truly is. But at what cost? Your grandparents? My grandparents?
During this time of uncertainty, I urge you to stop hanging out with your friends in close quarters. I urge you to stop visiting your grandparents as they are in the age group that is most at risk. I urge you to stop seeking services from nonessential businesses. But if you do, I urge you to educate yourselves. Wear masks in stores, practice social distancing, use hand sanitizer after touching things in public and be mindful.
Yet, I understand the urges. I’m a teenager whose senior year got cut short too. Trust me when I say I want nothing more than to party with all of my friends right now. But is it worth it?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 can even be spread by individuals who are not showing any symptoms. Simply talking to someone within six feet of reach can spread it through respiratory droplets.
To my fellow class of 2020 – Much to my dismay, I have seen the most dangerous and selfish behavior from this year’s seniors – my class. This seriously affects our future. Our graduation has been moved to July 10th, and even then there’s still a possibility that we won’t have a normal one, that date is less than two months away – do you want your family to see you walk the stage? Our senior prom was cancelled. Our numerous right-of-passage activities like Project Grad, have been postponed. Did you know that some universities are considering our first semester of college to be entirely online? Many of our “firsts” have been ripped from our grasps. Don’t continue to jeopardize your own and others’ futures. We’ll get our time to celebrate.
Utilize online services like Facetime, Houseparty, Zoom, texting, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, etc. to keep in touch with your friends and family. Or go old fashioned and take the time to sit down and write someone a letter. We are more connected than ever in this age of continuously improving modern technology.
On the other hand, it’s important to note that some do not always have the option to remain at home. Some have had to work since the start of the pandemic to support themselves and their families even though they may not feel entirely safe there. And some may not feel safe in their own homes. It is possible to leave the house and still help slow the spread. If you choose to hang out with others, take precautions such as meeting up outdoors while wearing a mask and remaining six feet apart at all times.
Stay safe. And I’ll leave you with a poem.
“And the people stayed home.
And read books,
And made art,
And played games,
And learned new ways of being,
And were still.
And listened more deeply.
Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows.
And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again,
They grieved their losses,
And made new choices,
And dreamed new images,
And created new ways to live and heal the earth fully,
As they had been healed.”