In December 2019, a mysterious illness was reported in the city of Wuhan, China. Though local medical professionals were alarmed by this new, dangerous and highly-contagious virus, political leaders paid no heed to their warnings and decided to proceed with normal life as per usual, hiding the discovery of the illness from the public.
As of March 2020, Wuhan has been placed under a strict several months-long lockdown after becoming the epicenter of the mysterious illness, now known to be the coronavirus (COVID-19). COVID-19 has not only affected the city, but also more than 80,000 people in all of China, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths.
Today, the coronavirus has spread to 167 countries, and continues to expand its reach all across the world. In just a few months, an illness viewed by Chinese political authorities as trivial has affected more than 240,000 individuals worldwide. Many countries’ governments have even declared a state of emergency due to the virus’ negative impact in their country. In fact, coronavirus has been so devastating that on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially classified the coronavirus outbreak as a global “pandemic,” the first time they have done so since the H1N1 swine flu in 2009.
COVID-19 is a highly-infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control, the symptoms for this illness include: “fever, cough, shortness of breath … persistent pain or pressure in the chest, and may appear “2 to 14 days after exposure.” Severe symptoms can be similar to those of pneumonia, and sometimes even lead to death. The disease is spread from person to person. Thus, it is highly recommended for people to not only follow essential health procedures, such as frequently washing one’s hands, but also to take measures to limit their interactions with others, thus limiting their chances of contracting and spreading the disease. To do so, practicing physical social distancing and self-quarantining are encouraged.
Though coronavirus has a low mortality rate, it is a particularly dangerous illness for those who are elderly and those who possess weak or compromised immune systems. It is important to be especially considerate of one’s own health to avoid potentially spreading coronavirus to these vulnerable individuals. Regardless, COVID-19 cases have been reported for people of many different ages, from newborns to octogenarians. The disease has greatly affected all aspects of society, from politics to culture to the economy.
In fact, a notable effect of coronavirus is its impact on the education sector. Academic entities of all kinds, from kindergartens to institutions of higher learning, have begun taking many precautionary measures to ensure the safety of their students and staff. Institutions have expanded their sanitation programs, and have begun . Many universities, for instance, have cancelled in-campus events and urged their current students to return home to avoid spreading coronavirus on their campus, which can often have a high concentration of people.
Many schools have gone virtual as well. The American Nicaraguan School (ANS), specifically, launched an innovative Distance Learning Plan on March 19, 2020, one which they plan to use until at least the Semana Santa break. This comprehensive plan thoroughly ensures an optimal learning experience despite lack of physical presence of students and staff through the implementation of multi-media resources and mediums for discussion. Thus far, it has been successful, and students have been able to connect with faculty and peers well.
The COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented challenge not just for ANS, but the whole world. Journalism is key in such historical moments, as it does not only provide individuals with ways through which to express themselves and inform, but also provides empowerment.
Despite the distance, ANS Journalism writers are launching a primary source document project. All of them will produce engaging and profound primary source documents to record this historical time period. These include newspaper articles, diaries, speeches, letters, photographs and journal entries. As witnesses to this event, Journalism members will be tasked with contributing to its remembrance, especially for future generations. Though they will mainly focus on the COVID-19 outbreak and its impacts, Journalism writers might also explore other key and relevant topics of 2020, such as the U.S. presidential race.
For centuries, journalism has linked the past, present and future—and The Eye of the Tiger is committed to ensuring it continues doing so with hard work, passion and resilience. We wish you and your loved ones the best during this difficult time. We hope you enjoy this project, which will be in development in these next few weeks!