by Cecilia Balog, 06/03/2020, Williamsburg, Mi

Middle School 6-8 Category

My social studies teacher walked into the room and the class stared intently at him. “Congratulations, class!” He said, “You’ve made it another day without dying from the Kung flu! Good job for being here!” We all smiled; some even laughed a little. He had been saying this for the past few days. Congratulating us on not dying.

He was the one who first informed me about the coronavirus. He said that a city of 11 million people were quarantined. “11 million,” he said. “Think about that. 11 million people not able to leave their city.” That seemed crazy at the time. Now? Not so much.

Did I ever think I would be stuck inside my house for weeks at a time? No. Would anyone? Of course not. But where are we now?

In the front of the classroom, my teacher had recently hung up a sign with every sort of thing that people thought was going to end the world but never did. The coronavirus was on there. I always looked at the virus of some sort of a joke. Another blown up thing just to make people worried. I thought what a lot of people thought. Until it changed my life.

I was sick the last two days that we had school. Nothing more than the common cold. I assumed I would go back to school on Monday, happy to be back and see my friends. But on Friday morning, my mom told me the big news. School was canceled.

Again, I thought this was an overreaction but this time I didn’t really care. Hey! I thought. School’s out! I can hang out with friends and play games and have fun all day!

I mentioned to my parents how I could do these things. My mom gave me a skeptical look, “We’ll see.”

Now I look back at that moment only a few weeks ago and realize how I was so hopeful to have some fun with the break.

Going anywhere seems like it would be one of the best things in the world. Even just a short trip to the grocery store seems like a huge deal. But when every surface has the potential to be contaminated with a life-threatening virus? I think I’ll stay home.

Now instead of doing the normal shopping routine at Meijer, we stand six feet apart wearing gloves and facemasks to prevent even breathing the same air. Watching people hoard essential products such as hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, and toilet paper in carts.

Instead of checking the weather, we check to see how many positive coronaviruses cases are in our county, state, country, and the world.

Instead of going out to eat at our favorite restaurants, we scrounge up ingredients from our homes or get carry-out, hoping that the chef who made the food wasn’t one of the many people who have the virus but haven’t shown symptoms.

Instead of going to friends’ houses and laughing together, we’re stuck in our own houses, our only way to see each other is to FaceTime.

Is this our new normal? Together we will flatten the curve.