Treasuring the Small Things in Life. Even Toilet Paper

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Liam Caskey

During the week of March second, my precalc class had been joking that school was going to be closed because of COVID-19 as if it was an impossibility. Then, after school on March eleventh, we were notified that the school was to be closed only for a cleaning for two days. This felt like a miracle. With AP exams approaching in a few short weeks, work was piling up. Two days off was a small gift that would only last so long. I still did the projects due the following Monday, still thinking that I would be back. There’s no appropriate or gentle way to tell someone that their lifestyle is going to be completely altered for the next few weeks (or months.) In the middle of the day on Friday, “All BCSD schools will be closed Monday, March 16 through Friday, April 3.”

It felt surreal, given the sudden announcement, bewildering students and parents. It felt like Spring Break had come early. In hindsight, the optimism was short-lived and ignorant of the seriousness of what was going on. Bedford Central School District has a reputation for hasty school closings for bad weather, which made this seem like par for the course. On the day our school closed, the number of cases in New York City was under one hundred, but by April first, it had broken forty-five thousand. I didn’t have the foresight to see how different things would be less than a month later. Non-essential businesses have been shut down, and over ten million people have filed for unemployment in the past two weeks, many having lost their sole source of income.

Many of my parents’ friends have either taken hits to their own businesses or have become unemployed entirely. Both of my parents work in the hospitality industry, one of the hardest hit, and have been laid off. All classes at Fox Lane High School have moved to a completely online schedule, often with video calls multiple times per week. The once daunting, three-hour AP Exams have been reduced to only forty-five minutes with open notes. Under normal circumstances, life at home, seven days a week preparing for open-note exams would be a dream come true, but the magic of being home all day with a schedule akin to that of a housecat has worn seriously thin.

The boredom has officially set in, but it is what we have to do to stop the spread. One important lesson that the quarantined lifestyle has taught me is that communicating with my friends keeps me sane. My mom loves to remind me that if this had happened when she was my age, she would have had one phone line to share amongst four people, and only the channels on network T.V. Bedford Central is set to reopen on the fifteenth, but with the federal government recommending Social Distancing guidelines be followed until at least the thirtieth, part of me sincerely doubts I will be back by then. Even if school is back in session by the fifteenth, we’re already behind. My AP classes have been spent preparing for the full three-hour tests that are no longer being given. The internship program offered to seniors, although still viable for some, is a vague possibility for others. With most businesses closed at the moment, few are making any money at all. It’s likely that many of the businesses will still be closed through May when the program is supposed to take place.

The most critical “damage” done, however, is to the attitudes and outlooks of the students currently at home. The transition to online schooling has been hard on a lot of people. There’s a lot of motivation that comes from getting up at six A.M. every weekday and separating work and home geographically. When you remove that separation or that motivation, work becomes more difficult. Looking ahead, the situation seems just as bleak. While the timeline of the disease is still uncertain, there’s a definitive possibility that this could reach into the fall, which would put new college students like myself in a strange position.

The Democratic primary and even the Presidential election, our first one to vote in, need contingency plans in case the virus lasts through the summer. The whole world is planning to be on hold for as long as needed to save lives. Doing the small things for the people around you is what is going to get us through this. Keep your distance. Check on your neighbors. Reach out to your friends. Stay home. I have no clue when/if I’ll be going back to school. Many aspects of my life have changed so drastically that I can’t imagine what it would be like to go back. But at least we have enough toilet paper to get by.

Liam Caskey is a seventeen-year-old senior at Fox Lane High School

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