Coronavirus affects community, nation

In populated environments, such as schools, it is not uncommon for sickness to spread like wildfire. Every student has probably brought a note home regarding a case of chickenpox, lice, and even the flu. However, how does the educational system prepare for severe viruses such as COVID-19, better known as coronavirus. In order to prevent such contaminations, it’s important to know what coronavirus is.

“A virus is a small infectious agent that can only replicate in the cells of organisms. Coronavirus is a virus that attacks the respiratory system and basically causes people to drown due to fluid in their lungs,” health teacher Melissa Smith said. 

On February 27, the district received a message regarding how the schools will be preparing for coronavirus and precautionary measures that will be going into place. The message was intended to inform students, parents, and faculty of the district’s communication with the CDC, the Lake County Health Department, and the Regional Office of Education.

“We were sensing that there was a concern regarding the virus and if the school was paying attention to it. Our district and superintendents throughout the area communicate quite often, and we all agreed that we knew enough about the coronavirus to send out a message to give people a sense that we’re paying attention and that there are ways to prevent the spread of the virus. For example, wash your hands, cover your cough, and don’t come to school when you’re feeling sick, which is good advice all the time.” said Superintendent Mikkel Storaasli.

 The district-wide message came with some concerns regarding the reaction that the message would bring. Would parents be more concerned? Would anxiety further spread throughout the student body? These were all valid sources of concern for SuperIntendent Storaasli.

“When writing the message, we didn’t want to give people the sense that we were panicking or on the verge of closing school. We just wanted to try to send out a message that we hope is informative, calming, and not too long. People have their lives to live and don’t need an incredibly long message,” Storaasli said. 

The message states that the district is staying updated through the Regional Office of Education and following the guidance of the CDC and Lake County Health Department. The message also states that the Lake County Health Department believes that at this time the area is at a low risk for cases of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, the coronavirus has also affected traveling regarding school trips. Every other year the AP European History (AP EURO) classes are given the chance to visit various countries in Europe and submerge themselves in other cultures. Many students love the trip and look forward to it. Unfortunately, due to the presence of coronavirus being a threat in a few European countries, the district had to take precautions. The initial concern was traveling to Italy, due to the country’s number of infected citizens. However, the risk has become too great, so instead of avoiding going to Italy, the spring break Euro trip has been cancelled entirely.

“Last Wednesday, we met as a team to discuss the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy. At that meeting, we discussed possible options if the outbreak proved to threaten the safety of our travelers or increased the chance that our students may face difficulties reentering the country,” said AP Euro teacher Todd Grunloh. “We began to look at different options outside of Italy, but it continued to spread, which forced us into canceling the trip. From our standpoint, there were just too many concerns and too many unpredictable scenarios that could unfold that would be detrimental to our students traveling abroad, as well as our school and community.”

Although Grunloh and other teachers inspected other alternatives, at the end of the day the decision was made that the trip would put students and faculty into too great of a predicament. Reactions differ throughout the students and the parents, who had invested into the trip and were looking forward to it.

It has been a mixture of both. We have heard from several parents that the decision to cancel the trip was the right decision; however, we have heard from upset students and parents as well. Both reactions were completely expected and completely understandable,” Grunloh said. “ As someone who has been leading these trips since 2007, I know what they mean to our students. I have led almost 300 students to Europe since 2007 and remain in contact with many of those students. This trip is typically the best part of their high school career and it is painful to not give them this opportunity. As someone that looks forward to this trip years in advance, I am angry and upset as well, but at the end of the day I understand and respect the decision. But, like I said, I understand the anger as well. There was no perfect solution, sadly.”

map (below): Top 5 most affected countries: China, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Spain.