How High School Students Around the World Have Reacted to Coronavirus

Luna Valayannopoulos-Akrivou, Contributing Writer

As of April 30th, coronavirus cases are soaring past three million cases worldwide, with over 230,000 confirmed deaths. A new pandemic that evolved in the provinces of China and has spread around the world is causing the numbers surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic to increase at a shockingly rapid rate. In order to ensure the safety of the city, Cambridge Public Schools closed on March 13, 2020, scheduled to reopen on May 4, 2020. Students in Cambridge are now staying inside their houses and studying for school through online classes. The mayor of Cambridge, Sumbul Siddiqui, has ensured that all students have access to an environment where they can learn and follow their classes.   

Globally, actions have been taken to contain the virus and prevent it from spreading, such as the closing of schools and non-essential businesses. While many other countries worldwide are on similar schedules to that of Cambridge, such as Peru, Hong Kong, and Greece, but some are not, such as Sweden, which have decided to keep their schools—with the exceptions of high schools, colleges, and universities—open. “Sweden’s decision not to close schools was driven by concerns that nurses would have to stay at home and take care of their children,” explained Gabriella Åkerman, a former Cambridge Public Schools student, who is 15 and goes to school in Sweden. Sweden’s approach is to keep students in school, so that their caregivers who are nurses and doctors are able to cure the virus, without the fear that their child is home alone. This technique has been shocking to most of the other countries around the world who have decided to close their schools and public spaces. But this could be a step in the right direction to finding the cure.  

If we follow the rules, we can beat the virus. We can get our freedom back if we are patient enough, so be careful and you will see how everything will turn out in our favor.”  

— Camille Gaudeaux, a student from Paris, France

Nevertheless, people in Sweden, similarly to the rest of the world, are making efforts to stay safe and healthy. Hong Kong, one of the first to experience the daunting spread of the virus, was able, through great efforts, to keep it relatively contained. Jonah Lai, 15, a student from Hong Kong, advises that, in order to stay healthy, one must, “Eat healthy, get enough sleep, exercise regularly at home, wear a mask when going out, and wash their hands when they come back home.” In other countries, like Greece, people are not able to go out wherever and whenever they desire. In comparison to other countries, Greece has taken some extreme measures to ensure that people stay inside and to ensure the safety of its citizens.  Tony Karampas, 16, from Athens, Greece, explained that, to maintain order, “The prime minister has blocked all unnecessary circulation. Whoever needs to go out has to carry a note approved by city officials that includes the purpose of the trip. People who fail to follow the regulation are being charged with a 150 euro fine.” Likewise, Peru has taken serious measures to ensure that its people are staying safe and inside. Peru’s plan is one that includes giving a fine—or sometimes even arresting—people who go out without permission, as well as prohibiting foreigners from leaving the country. Alejandro Padron, 16, from Lima, Peru, claims that “In my country, it’s obligatory to observe social distancing, and if you do not follow the rules you can get a fine or be arrested by the police. There has been news about people who haven’t followed the rules and been arrested for it.” According to Worldometer, a website intended to track the number of cases and death due to the coronavirus globally and nationally, countries with stricter restrictions are less likely to have cases and deaths due to the virus. 

The United States—and, more specifically, the state of Massachusetts—has not set as strict guidelines as countries like these. While rules are being set in place, such as an obligation of wearing a mask when outside, people in Massachusetts are not restricted to when and for how long they can stay outside. Additionally, the state of Massachusetts has made an effort to close all playgrounds and recreation areas to prevent the socializing that may be taking place in them. However, students, toddlers, and adults are spending their days going for walks. And many students are still meeting up with their friends and are going out on a regular basis without consequences. A CRLS student, Zack Permna ’21, claims that “I try to follow the rules, but it’s hard sometimes to not be able to see my friends.”  

That is not a problem that exists simply in America. Worldwide students admitted that they missed their friends who they can not see because of the virus. Camille Gaudeaux, 14, from Paris, France, admits, “A thing that I really miss doing is hanging out with my friends and having fun with them.” However, Padron emphasized, “If we follow the rules, we can beat the virus. We can get our freedom back if we are patient enough, so be careful and you will see how everything will turn out in our favor.”  

Even though schools are closed, one thing that most of these students can agree upon is that they are glad the government is taking the measures necessary to keep the people in their countries safe and prevent the spread of the virus. As Åakerman said: “We can beat the virus if we remain united in effort and determination.”