Today was the fifth day of the full on quarantine. For many, this experience started way earlier but for me and my family, things have radically changed within the past week as it has for so many others. Thankfully, none of us are showing any symptoms and we all appear healthy.
For me, the hardest part of this experience has been the impact that it has had on my children – one who is a Freshman in college and one who is a Junior in high school. Those ~6 years – late high school and college – are arguably some of the best and most important years in a person’s life, where you grow, where you change, and where you make deep meaningful friendships with your peers. Not to mention, it is the period where you find and hone your interests and try to set a path for the rest of your life. That experience has suddenly been ripped away from my kids and it is just heartbreaking.
My son has been doing virtual schooling via his high school since Monday. My daughter started her virtual college classes today. In general, the transition to virtual classes has been fine, but both have expressed really missing the interactions with their peers and the fun of spending time with their friends. The novelty of it for a week or three may sustain both of them, but I am worried when we get to May and they are still doing the virtual classes. How will their state of mind be by that point? What will be the emotional toll?
The scary thing is that this may not be a temporary thing. This situation could have long, deep, lasting impacts that go beyond when ‘things get back to normal’, because I don’t (and no one knows) what normal will look like. How will colleges and universities operate in the near term, with kids living so close to each other and interacting so closely on a campus? How will this impact kids who are the same age as my children from a social and emotional perspective? For high school kids in their Junior year, how will colleges evaluate their applications and factor this experience into the equation? How will universities factor the emotional and psychological toll of this experience into how these high school Juniors performed during this year? What about the kids who are high school Freshmen and Sophomores? Will all the schools out there transition to become the University of Phoenix?
Those are the things that I am thinking about these days, as we get all sorts of prognosticators predicting how long this will be the way we will live.
Optimistically, the medical community will find a vaccine for COVID-19 and it will eventually go away like mumps, rubella, and polio. But how long will that take? Because, I’m more interested in seeing how ‘social distancing’ will impact how we interact with each other in the near and long term future.