The lost year

The impact of closures during COVID-19

During these chaotic times, it is natural to feel terrified of getting sick, frustrated by numerous inconveniences, or bored and restless in self-isolation. However, it’s also in times like these that it’s important to be aware of yourself and at the larger impact of your actions.  

Following the spread of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus, across the globe, many Canadian universities have closed their doors, switching to online classes and leaving the fate of next year in the air. In Nova Scotia, universities and colleges began to shut down days before there was an identified first case in the province, while Dalhousie University and the University of King’s College were among some of the first in the country to cancel classes. This series of sudden and unprecedented decisions have sent students scrambling as they struggle to move out of residence, or the country, while avoiding the consequences of the pandemic and their end of year assignments.  

What is COVID-19 

virus strain first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, COVID-19 has been spreading since December 2019. As of now, according to Health Canada, Canada has over 3,500 cases of COVID-19. The Nova Scotia government declared a state of emergency at 28. Health experts don’t know everything about the virus yet, so they have been closely monitoring the situation and its potential to cause severe illness and pneumonia. It is primarily spread through respiratory droplets, which means people generally come into contact with these droplets when close to someone who is contagious. Symptoms appear within two weeks after exposure and include the signs of an aggressive flu. Due to these symptoms, self-isolation has been the best solution to block the spread of the virus in the community, along with basic flu hygiene.  

Although no more morning classes and weeks off of school can initially seem like a dream come true, for some, school closures are a very negative occasion. At Dal, closures have already interfered with course registration, deadlines, and grades as many classes have chosen to cancel oral, group assignments or even individual assignments out of consideration for the self-isolation. Students concerned about how the impact of the class cancellations may affect their GPA have gone to social media to air out their concerns and ask for answers. Students also have questions about problems with their employment, living situations, and mental health.  

Mixed feelings concerning closures 

“Please pay your student staff and recognize your student leaders for their work, regardless of if they can continue their role from home,” said Jess Ruprecht, a concerned Haligonian. “Reach out to your students as human beings during this time, not as folks doing a role. Be supportive, but don’t be afraid to also be human.”  

Other students have been asked to move out as Dalhousie begins to close residences, encouraging students to head home if they can as countries tighten their borders and airlines limit flights. For students who are unable to leave residences, the university has changed to packaged meals for take-out. However, many students have also been understanding of the situation, adjusting how they can and settling in for a long spring. For them, this is a chance to catch up on work, party, and settle in for an impromptu home vacation, or, a chance to get back into nature.  

What’s next?  

It’s important that individuals take this time to look after themselves. Self-isolation can be a time to focus on mental health and well-being. It also means fewer personal interactions and a lot of time alone. For people who live with a variety of mental health issues like depression or social anxiety, this isolation can cause further panic and long-term effects to mental health. Creating a schedule and a separate space for work, as well as phone calls, FaceTime sessions, reading or a nature walk are all ways to make this time a little easier.  

“This morning, I did a small grocery run this morning to restock on a few items. Now, it’s time to do an at-home workout,” said Jacqueline Beaulieu, another Haligonian affected by the quarantine. “Having and following a schedule, even from home,” Beaulieu said, “can do wonders for your health and wellness during this time.”  

Although it is completely understandable that students are worried during this time, it’s important to remember that many of these difficult decisions are necessary for the sake of public safety. This can be a chance to enjoy the break: there isn’t a ban on sleep, studying, or Netflix… at least we still have internet and power. These decisions have been made with our health in mind but for now, we can only stay put and wait for updates. Stay informed, calm, prepared and most importantly, healthy.  

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Isabel Buckmaster

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