Coronavirus pandemic defines our new ’normal’

A look at how we dealt with a pandemic.

 

As KC students work to adapt to a different world post-quarantine, the Flare staff shares some of their earliest experiences as they “returned” to school after Spring Break.

 

Tricia Still

Dominique – third from the left

Justin Gill

Tyler Sutton

My Coronavirus Learning Experience 

            The coronavirus has caused me to change most of the things that I do every day. Like every other student at Kilgore College, I have had to move my in person classes into online classes. My past experience with online or hybrid classes did not go well, so I had to drop them. For these reasons, I was very nervous to begin online classes. I was not comfortable to do this and I assumed that it would not work out well. Luckily, I have been wrong so far. All of my classes have been using webcams in order to see the other students and the teachers. With the teachers able to present PowerPoints and photos on Blackboard, we are able to learn in a similar way that we did while physically in front of the teacher. Even though there are a few pros about doing online classes, I miss going to classes to see my classmates in person. Going to school keeps me sane. Without going to school, I am left at home with nothing to do after class. I would normally go to the library or go to the Baptist Student Ministry to hang out with friends, but now it is simply not safe to be within six feet of another person. It was nice to have places at school to be with friends without paying. Now, almost every place in Kilgore is either closed or decided to only offer drive-thru services. Because of this, I thought that I had no choice but to sulk at home.

            As I have learned in the last few weeks, there are seas of activities that you can do to keep yourself busy during this difficult time. Lately, I have attempted to try different things to keep me busy. On Hulu, there are many options that I have found. After finishing ‘Brooklyn Nine Nine’, I found that I like the shows ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and ‘Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist’ because of my obsession with Hulu. When I ran out of interest with Hulu, I decided to cook and bake anything that was available. I made vanilla cake, freezable breakfast bowls, enchiladas, turkey wraps and roll ups, and many others. This does not sound very positive, but I made enough meals to last a week. I do not recommend doing this without knowing you have enough food to last.

            I also realized that this would be the best time to do what you love to do and learn how to do different things with it. I decided to pick up my ukulele and relearn it! My fingers may be numb from playing, but I do feel accomplished. I also started attempting to play video games on my computer. According to the website, Giant Bomb, on computers you can buy games online like Fortnite Battle Royale, League of Legends and Rocket League. The safest way to buy these games would be through the gaming website Steam, which is what I used. There are also some for free on computers! These would include Hiddenverse, Grand Theft Auto and 3D Pinball Space Cadet. To my surprise, I learned that I enjoy playing video games and I had more fun than I expected!

            In conclusion, there are many things that you can do to get your mind off of the coronavirus. This pandemic has caused a scare throughout many countries and it is time to get our minds off of it for now. While under quarantine, we need to remember to stay safe by staying indoors, washing your hands, use hand sanitizer when needed, keep your germs to yourself and calm down. Stay safe, keep up with school and keep busy!

-by Tricia Still

We weren’t ready for the world to freeze.

The global pandemic, COVID-19, has swept the nation and put the entire world on pause. Restaurants closed, major events canceled, and schools shut down. Along with several other colleges and universities, KC closed its doors and moved all classes online — closing campus housing along with it.

In that moment when things were going on, it hadn’t set in what was ending for me. As a Resident Assistant in Nolen Hall, I had mixed feelings. On one hand, I was glad to have more time to spend back home. However, I soon started to realize this meant a very abrupt ending to my last year of college. Working in the dorms, as well as living there, meant it was my job to ensure the safety of our residents. I was supposed to make sure everyone was following the rules and avoiding large gatherings, while at the same time packing my life up and saying goodbyes.

The first few days of checkouts were slow. No one was in a rush to get
back from their Spring Break and, at this point, not many students were taking the virus seriously. In our minds, everyone was blowing the whole thing out of proportion. By the Wednesday after Spring Break, we started to hear about how quickly the number of confirmed cases was rising, and by Thursday many residents had already come and gone. They got their belongings and left, not to return for the rest of the semester.

It was scary to think about just how many people I had come in contact with during the whole evacuation week. Over 100 young women, from all over, returned from their Spring Breaks scattered afar. I purposed myself to stay clean and stay mindful. Not only that, but I had to utilize my time wisely by working when I could while also spending as much time with my friends as possible. Looking back now, I didn’t take their goodbyes seriously.

It was difficult seeing what this pandemic was doing to people. It caused the season to get canceled for our softball players, and it was heartbreaking to see them have to go their separate ways so soon. It was sad to watch the basketball players pack up and go home knowing that I wouldn’t be back next semester. It was all happening so fast. I didn’t have time to take in the moment. I was in a constant state of having to work and reassuring my parents that I was being safe.

 Life was moving at the speed of sound at this point. The week was coming to an end and I was caught off guard. The virus has set so many things in motion way faster than any of us had anticipated. I thought that I had eight more weeks of living away from home, eight more weeks to spend time with the people that mean the most to me, eight more weeks to work and save my money, and just like that it was all coming to an abrupt end. It’s scary and it’s sad.

This pandemic changed everything. The plans we had made and the memories we had waited so long to make were being taken away from us, and it’s hard to deal with. I have no more words. I have yet to figure out how to cope with the pressure the world has thrust upon my shoulders. We stressed the health risk. We stressed the seriousness of confinement. But no one prepared us for the hardships of change.

 We weren’t ready. The entire world is frozen, and we are now just waiting for it to restart.

by Dominique Burnett

 

Change isn’t always a bad thing

            Cooped up inside, hardly leaving the house, always staying at home. The coronavirus has forced a lot of people into a situation along these lines. Not long ago this probably sounded ridiculous. However, some people aren’t very shaken up by things like this at all. I for one have been generally unaffected by what has been, for many, a shocking and sudden change of pace.

For me, staying home is just what I’m most comfortable doing, so this transition for everyone else hasn’t really been that jarring for me. I’ve certainly noticed that my friends and family have been thrown off by the lockdown, and that’s probably the greatest thing I’ve noticed. More of my friends and I have been playing games together, even friends who don’t normally play anything. I’m convinced that I’ve done more Facetime calls during these weeks than I ever have in my entire life.

What may be the most substantial change I’ve made to my life because of the lockdown is that I’ve rearranged my furniture and made a small work corner for everything related to my new online classes. While it’s a substantial change for me, it’s likely not substantial for anyone else.

Essentially, I’ve only really experienced all of this through the people around me and what they have experienced. For example, my best friend went through the trouble of waiting about five days for Nintendo Switches to be in stock somewhere long enough to purchase one that wasn’t being resold for almost twice the proper cost. But now she and I are playing Minecraft together in our free time and loving it. I and two of my other friends, who I haven’t hung out with in a long time, have been video chatting over Instagram and playing the new “Call of Duty” together whenever we have time during the week. I’ve also been able to spend more time with my family, which is probably one of the best things to come out of this horrible turn of events. I’m especially grateful for them at this time. If it weren’t for my family, I would almost certainly be having a much harder time dealing with this pandemic than I am right now.

While I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m a good source of wisdom, there are a few things I feel I could say from my experience in lockdown. This is a perfect opportunity to pause and ask yourself if you’re satisfied with where your life is at and/or going right now. If you aren’t happy with where you’ll be going back to when this is all over, now is a perfect time to plan out how you will make something better out of your future following the end of this situation. Remember to not take for granted what we have in this country that people in other parts of the world do not. We are blessed to live in a country where so much of what we could possibly need is accessible with ease that others could never dream of. I also can’t help but say that the best thing for everyone to get out of this hiccup in our ordinary lives is that this is a chance to make sure you really appreciate those who are around you, even if they aren’t physically around you right now. Do everything you can to keep yourself and every single person you are close to from drifting apart, the people you care about the most and that care about you the most are something special that you cannot afford to lose. 

By Justin Gill

Sports is down, but not out, for true fan 

The times we live in today with the sudden emergence of Covid-19, has turned not only the lives of the people in my town of Longview but also the entire state of Texas and the world upside down.

The virus started in China towards the end of 2019 and made its way slowly through countries worldwide before finally reaching the United States in early March. Schools statewide have closed, every major sports league in not only the U.S., but also around the world, have either been suspended or canceled the rest of their seasons. Sadly, a lot of people who work for small businesses have seen their jobs close or cut back hours, costing many their jobs, as well as benefits for their family.

Personally, I know exactly where I was when the shutdown began. I was in the middle of Spring Break, watching the Dallas Mavericks playing the Denver Nuggets NBA game on TV when they broke in to say a player from the NBA had tested positive for the virus. That player turned out to be Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert and the NBA canceled the game he was going to be playing in between the Utah Jazz and Oklahoma City Thunder. Moments later the entire NBA season was suspended. The next day all the ongoing NCAA conference tournaments were canceled and later that day, for the first time ever, the 2020 NCAA tournament was canceled – bringing the famed March Madness to a quick halt.

Furthermore, the start of the Major League Baseball season got pushed back from March 26th until maybe early July, at last report. The National Hockey League, NASCAR and all Spring College sports at every level, along with the entire high school spring sports season in Texas was canceled. By that Friday, there were officially no more live sporting events for us to watch.  Also at that time, schools were shut down and spring events such as prom, graduation and UIL were put on perpetual pause.

To be perfectly honest, it made me more anxious than I usually am because I was worried about not only myself getting sick, but also my family and friends or anyone I go to school with who I consider a friend to get it, so my anxiety got a little crazy. I was able to eventually calm down.

The following week was more of the same. As more and more cases in the U.S. and around the world were confirmed, more and more places were either closed or made to use only essential staff. My father, who is a department lead at the Krogers here in Longview, has been able to stay working and doing his job but the stores around here are packed daily with people needing to get supplies and food. My mom, who teaches at a church school in Longview, was told it would be shut down for an undetermined amount of time. She joins so many that don’t know when they will get another paycheck. For people like me who eat, sleep and breathe sports, this is torture. While sports do not seem as important as all the bigger things happening in the world when it comes to this virus, sports always give people something to look forward to and something to rally around.

This Covid-19 outbreak has caused a lot of headaches and bad things since it hit our area in early March, but seeing us come together, like we always do with any challenge that hits this country, showed me that we can – and will – come out of this victorious.

by Tyler Sutton – Sports Writer