Students discuss impact of COVID-19 on New Trier community

Coronavirus creates fear and leads to changes in personal hygiene habits


Eva Roytburg

Some families have started stockpiling food and disinfectant products because of the novel coronavirus

The coronavirus outbreak has spread around the world, leading to concern among New Trier students and families.

On Feb. 28 New Trier sent out an email that updated families on the potential impact the virus could pose. It detailed the school’s steps to prepare for the virus, specifically their absence policy.

“Our developing plans include the possibility of a large number of absences, and short- and long-term plans for closing our campuses should the need arise,” the email states.
In addition to this explanation, the email also contained information about the steps students can take to protect themselves.

Responses to the email varied among students. Some were reassured by the school’s preparation, others were upset because they thought the message resulted in fear mongering.
“I didn’t think it was real,” said sophomore Timofei Asinsky, “The health services at New Trier are pretty great, and I think it’s unnecessary just to freak people out.”

Sophomore Fran Lyon also doubted the true scope of the virus’ impact, but still appreciated the school’s message.

“Even if [the virus] isn’t as serious as the media is portraying it, I still think it’s good that steps are being taken to address it,” said Lyon.

Some students feel that media coverage of the virus has created panic and overblown the possible impact of the illness.

“I feel like the media over hypes this stuff to scare the people because they want them to watch their news program,” said sophomore Josh Spinner.

Constant media attention on the virus has worsened issues like the panic buying of masks and water. Prices for basic goods have skyrocketed online as families nationwide, and within the community, stock up on the basics to prepare for coronavirus.

Sophomore Lucy Titterton says that her parents have stockpiled supplies, which to her seems unnecessary.

“The whole stockpiling thing is completely ridiculous, there’s no need for it at all,” said Titterton.

The recent volatility of the U.S. market can be attributed to the spread of the coronavirus. The Dow Jones Industrial Average plummeted by 13.56%, the 5th largest drop in the Dow’s history.

This has led to worry for students who have invested in stock, like sophomore Rockwell Shapiro.

“Even though a lot of the stocks I own have nothing to do with coronavirus, such as shares in the marijuana, defense, and ride sharing industries, it’s a market-wide decline,” said Shapiro.
Despite the economic impact, some students aren’t worried about the coronavirus because it largely affects the older population.

“I’m not scared about it because it’s not deadly to anyone under 30,” said Senior Hale Thomas.

Senior Yida Hao believes there is a difference between how students and adults are approaching the topic.

“The students are taking this less seriously. Everyone’s joking around about it a lot more than parents or teachers. At home my parents are very strict now about hand washing and being clean. At school everyone’s like ‘oh you have a little cough… coronavirus,’” said Hao.

From New York City to Los Angeles, coronavirus has also brought another unforeseen impact—increasing racism against East Asian communities in the US.

“I think the threat of [the coronavirus] is sensationalized, which is really tragic considering the impact to the Asian-American community,” said sophomore MJ Jones.

On Jan. 30, a Chinese man in Sydney, Australia’s Chinatown experienced a stroke in public, but was not given CPR by bystanders for fear that he had coronavirus.

“I’ve just heard from Asian-American students at this school that people are now a lot more comfortable just being openly racist,” added Jones.

Many students are taking steps to stay safe, despite doubts about the magnitude of the threat.

“I’m keeping hand sanitizer in my backpack now, but I guess people can just make an effort to be cleaner and not touch their faces,” said Spinner.

Lyons stressed the importance of cleanliness and disease prevention.

“I think we should keep up standards of hygiene even when there’s not a global outbreak, but I do think the coverage of it now could be considered too much hype.”