Well, it seems as if natural selection has finally caught up to us. Knowing that even our authentic, truth-telling, corona-downplaying president has caught the coronavirus, it comes as no surprise that friends, families, and students that we know might have the virus as well. There is no question that everyone at Greenhills School has felt the harsh restrictions on social distancing, the need for masks, and impact of eight hours on Zoom. Nonetheless, these guidelines are what have kept the student body of Greenhills safe and corona-free.
Unfortunately, we aren’t living in a fairytale, and even with a low corona-count at Greenhills, we cannot escape the inevitable. As of Tuesday, October 6th, a mass email was sent out to the entire student and faculty body informing them that the first positive case of the virus was found in our school. The timing of it could not have been more stressful; in the following few weeks, every grade at Greenhills would have two days in-person per month. As expected, word spread quickly, making the much awaited return to in-person school even more worrisome.
Seeing as the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon, I thought this would be a good time to look at things from a different perspective—one we have not yet heard! Since they are currently the talk of town, why don’t we take a look into the life of a student currently diagnosed with COVID-19? I was able to virtually talk to a covid-positive student living in the Metro Detroit area about their experience as a high school student with Coronavirus. For clarity, the student interviewed does not attend Greenhills School, however they would like to remain anonymous. The student did want to let everyone know that they and their family are safely quarantining and taking the necessary precautions.
When asked about their symptoms, the student had no trouble listing them in the order that they all occurred. “At first, it was just coughing. Like, really bad coughing. That’s where it all started, really. My throat wasn’t sore or anything, but the coughs would just come naturally, especially after sitting for a long time.” The student made an effort to mention how Zoom calls were truly miserable, since uncontrollable coughing would ensue after standing up. By the third day of dreadful coughing, their fever kicked in. The student detailed their experience battling the fever, saying how they were, “really sweaty and hot all the time. I couldn’t sleep even, like one night, I slept on the floor.” Only after their sleepless night fighting off a fever did the student realize the most plausible cause of their discomfort: COVID-19.
The student explained that the following morning, they got tested for the virus. That same night, they lost their sense of taste and smell. When asked to describe the moment when they realized they had lost two of their senses, they specified, “It was when I was eating my late-night Pocky and Nutella. I remember bringing it up to my mouth and you know how Nutella has that milk chocolatey scent that just wafts up to your nose? Gone. It just wasn’t there. So then I put it into my mouth, right, but it just tasted different. Honestly, it was disgusting.” The student talked about how they rarely had an appetite anymore, since there was either no flavor in the food or it tasted “weird.” However, as bad as losing their sense of taste and the ability to smell was, the student noted that the worst symptom of all was the pounding headaches. There were migraines that would come in flashes throughout the day, and nothing but Tylenol seemed to help.
There are many situations where the spread of Coronavirus is possible, one of the leading causes being when individuals refuse to wear a mask. Even our own president, who often mocks others for wearing the mask, was a part of a super-spreader event that caused an outbreak of COVID-19 in the White House. I was hopeful that this particular student had been responsible by wearing their mask and was curious to know how they had contracted the virus. When I asked the student how they think they might have contracted the virus, the student took a while to form an answer to this question, with a visible look of thought on their face. After a solid minute, the student recalled that they had participated in an away athletic game where the other team was not strict about wearing masks. This student emphasized that they were wearing a mask, but the other team had been wearing them improperly or not at all. When I asked whether there was action taken against the other team, the student said that when notified the students would fix their masks or “slap one on” just to take them off or pull them down again.
I asked the student to tell me about how they felt when their test result came back as positive. To my surprise, they told me that they felt relieved for the closure. Instead of the hounding question of ‘do I have coronavirus or not’, they said it was nice to know the answer since they were now able to take the proper actions and precautions to deal with it. I followed up by questioning how the student felt about publicly having the virus, to which they responded that it was extremely isolating, since “people do not want to be around you.” It was also surreal but a little scary for them that they were living out something that is so huge in the media.
When questioned about what the worst thing about contracting COVID-19 was, the student responded, “seeing my family suffer. It’s obvious I gave it to my family. I might be healthy and feel kinda bad sometimes, but my immune system is all good. But my mom and my dad, they’re not doing too well. It’s scary, and the isolation isn’t helping.” I felt empathetic for this student. They were taking precautions and simply playing their sport, yet the carelessness of others who downplay the virus was forcing their whole family into lockdown and sickness. That sure seems to say a lot about the selfishness of our society.
As the weeks go by and we prepare for our future in-person classes of the 2020-21 school year, I encourage everyone to have self control. I know the urge to rip off our masks, stand in tiny clumps, and whisper hot gossip to our new classmates is overwhelmingly large, however, let’s remember to be considerate. If not for ourselves, let's be cautious for our friends, family, and surrounding community.