Photo Courtesy of www.usatoday.com.
For the most part, the world has made it through a year of COVID-19 changing their lives in terms of how they plan where they go and what they do. It may feel like things are slowly turning around in terms of the virus, and they are. There are now three different vaccines approved for the United States, and over 30 percent of the population has been vaccinated. For many people, the vaccine not only means defense against the coronavirus, but peace of mind.
“Because of the vaccine, and COVID[-19] cases lowering worldwide, it looks like we can have some sort of plans for summer and the near future,” said eighth grader Chester Coles.
Since seniors are the most vulnerable to the virus, Florida made it a priority to vaccinate the elderly first. As of March 29, adults over the age of 40 were eligible to receive the vaccine, and on April 5, all adult residents of the state of Florida were allowed access to the vaccine. . .
The quick vaccine rollout has made many feel that everything is getting closer to returning to normal.
“As an educator in an open school, I was very worried about exposing others, and now I don’t worry about it as much,” said History Department Chair Mrs. Anne Franzen. “ I have had my first vaccine [shot], and I am about to get my second. The vaccine will make it so that life can get back to some sense of normalcy.”
With people being vaccinated and/or having their family members vaccinated, they are finally feeling a sense of relief from the burden of fear that has gripped much of the country over the past year.
“I would wear an N-95 mask plus a regular one at Christmas time, whereas in the spring, after I had been vaccinated, I would just wear a regular mask, which was so much more comfortable,” said middle school Chinese language teacher Ms. Kimberly Latimer.
Even if some people are not changing how they plan, they are definitely feeling more at ease now.
“I think people are more comfortable now that the vaccine is available,” said Coordinator of Academic Affairs Mr. Nicholas Crisafi. “I think there’s a mental sigh of relief because of the vaccine.”
Travel was one of the most restricted activities due to the coronavirus. However, there is more control of the virus in comparison to just a few months ago, so airlines have been able to get almost up to speed with more flights per day according to the New York Times. Some students’ families have already made plans for summer travel.
“We plan on having a regular travel summer like [we did] before COVID[-19],” said eighth grader Scott Noble. “We will still stay cautious, and we will not travel out of the country.”
Of course, there are also people who are tired of having to wear masks and adhere to their county and/or state restrictions. For example, during spring break last month in Miami, many people protested and broke protocols.
“We have to understand that this is a global pandemic; while it is getting better, I think it is also getting worse because people are refusing to stay home and follow protocols,” said eighth grader Rebekkah Merkel.
Even though most of the country feels life is getting back to normal and they feel safer, the virus is still very much around. People still need to socially distance and wear masks because of the 70 percent of the population that is not vaccinated.
“I have not changed what I do – I still wear a mask, stay socially distant, and wash my hands a lot, but I am no longer afraid,” said Franzen.
It seems that the School is loosening up a bit as well if the end-of-year events are any indication. “We have a lot of planning in place for upcoming events,” said Head of Middle School Mr. Charles Hagy. “We [have been] able to plan for an eighth grade trip to Universal Studios [on May 14] to make up for the past cancelled trips,” he said.
Hopefully, things will begin getting back to normal as the School prepares for the 2021-22 academic year.
“August is going to look like a cross or hybrid between 2019 and 2020,” said Hagy. “We will most likely be wearing masks and have the same social distancing protocols in place, but there will be no pods – we will not be doing that again,” he said, referring to the groups of students that were created to keep large groups of students away from one another this year.
It would seem that the vaccines are serving their purpose of protecting the people from the coronavirus, stopping the spread, and reassuring the public.