Opinion: An open letter to post-pandemic America
To Whom It May Concern,
To say the time I live in now is strange would be an understatement. Two months ago, I was on campus at the university, feeling the most comfortable I have been all school year. I was excited about finishing my first year of college and was counting down the days to spring break. Unfortunately, the universe or whoever is in charge out there had different plans. Right now, I am back in Sussex County sitting at a desk my mom bought me last month to make my bedroom better suited for school. There is a handwritten class schedule hanging on the outside of my door in order to keep family members out when I am on a Zoom lecture. This is the reality of being a college student during the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It might not seem too bad on the surface but just below lies a variety of difficulties and stressors that I get to pick and choose from every day.
Receiving the initial email was not much of a shock to me. I saw multiple sources suggest that the first confirmed COVID-19 case was connected to the university minutes before, so I knew they had to act sooner rather than later. But within just a few hours, the general tone on campus shifted. I do not think I’ve ever opened so many emails in such a short period. Almost immediately, classes for the rest of the week were canceled and moved online for the semester. I remember sitting in the dining hall with my friends and constantly refreshing the UD updates page to obtain clarity. If classes were online, did that mean we had to stay home after spring break? If we went home, would we have our money refunded? How prepared were our professors to switch to remote instruction? The university answered these questions two days later on Friday the 13th. How appropriate is that?
By the time I permanently moved out of my residence hall on Sunday, the reality of the situation sunk in. I didn’t think being home would be such a struggle, but it hit me hard within the first two weeks of online classes. My mom works from home, and my dad was laid off from his job. My anxiety builds all the time, and my stress levels have officially gone through the roof. I am thankful for the distraction that schoolwork gives me, but I already worry about what I am going to do when the semester ends in two weeks. Summer plans are being canceled right and left, and a tiny voice in the back of my head picks at the thought of fall semester being moved online. It all feels so surreal.
Everyone stays at home unless they are an essential worker or out protesting in the streets and screaming in the faces of health professionals. I wish I was joking when I say that people are carrying assault rifles in the streets to “protest” the government dictating what they should and should not do with their bodies. They demand that the government reopens the economy, not for the stability of the country, but so they can get a haircut or grab a drink at their favorite
If there is anything I want for the future of the country, it is stronger leadership and more unity; two things that seem so simple to me but are not as easy to come by. I hope we can reflect on this time in quarantine and remember the positives; communities coming together to provide food for those who do not have access to fresh meals, drive-by birthdays for kids who are not able to celebrate with their friends, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” coming out at the perfect time. I don’t want to remember this as a low point in my life even though it feels that way half the time. In the long run, I hope this serves as a wake-up call to a lot of people. And God; I hope my generation and everyone after us can fix the mess that has been left for us.
Martina Rexrode, age 19
Martina Rexrode is a freshman English major. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s editorial staff. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.