Clarkies Respond to Pandemic’s Impacts

Ksenija Scahill, Contributing Writer

First year Amelia Gantt was hoping that the coronavirus could be contained in early March until she heard the news that she would be returning to her home in Alexandria, Virginia.

“I remember telling myself that I wouldn’t be too scared about the virus—until school closed,” says Gantt, “because at the time, there were only super distant rumors about it getting to that point. Looking at how bad it’s gotten now, and was even then, I think it was the best decision for us to be with our families and get out as early as possible.”

With the exception of the heavily criticized Florida Spring Breakers, who underestimated the severity of COVID-19, many college students, while disappointed, saw the importance of returning home.

“The most disappointing thing was that I wouldn’t be able to see my close friends and I was losing my sense of normalcy,” says Sammy Eagen, a sophomore from Pelham, New Hampshire.  ”Going home is very important to flatten the curve,” he reasons. “But I was in a pretty good place at that point at Clark, so going home was pretty upsetting. “

The disappointing return home for college students was just a catalyst for the change that people were going to experience here in the US. With almost all states, Washington D.C, and Puerto Rico issuing stay at home orders, lives have begun to change drastically.

Emma Theisen, a first-year from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, noticed the larger community impact, as local businesses closed entirely or moved to carry-out only.  “My family is really trying to make sure to support local businesses so they can stay open during this time and afterwards as well,” says Thiesen, who is focused on the possible long term effects on her community and finding ways to help.

Theisen has begun making face masks and is even mailing them to friends who might need them. “I had a lot more free time on my hands, and I knew a lot of people were in need of facemasks,” she explains.  “I have a sewing machine, so I realized I could contribute and help my community.”

Efforts like Theisen’s face masks speak to the larger issue of essential workers lacking proper protective gear as they venture into the world every day, with an increased possibility of contracting COVID-19.  Issues like these have moved to the forefront of politics today, especially leading up to the 2020 Presidential race, which is being shaped every day by what is happening in our country.

“A lot of people will tell you that the pandemic occurring during an election season made things even messier,” observes Brett Iarrobino, a junior living down the block from Clark, “But from where I’m standing, this has been a really enlightening look at how our elected officials would conduct themselves during times of turmoil.”

Iarrobino’s experience with the pandemic has been personal as his aunt and uncle in eastern Massachusetts are fighting to recover from COVID-19.

The sense of normalcy is long gone and the disappointment that so many students felt leaving behind their lives has turned into something larger, Iarrobino says. “When I’m not thinking about how our present state is going to dramatically change,” he admits, “I’m worrying about the trauma we’re all going to collectively be reeling from for months and years even after this is a distant nightmare.”