December 31st, 2019 marked the official beginning of the coronavirus outbreak in China. Only weeks later, the deadly virus had entered South Korea.
For those who don’t know already, the coronavirus is a virus which targets mainly the respiratory tract. It is a part of a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The uproar of concern in the status quo is caused by the fact that coronavirus is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans, and is quickly becoming a global epidemic. Currently, there is no known cure.
The virus has, naturally, sparked great worry amongst the KIS community. Students have begun to wear masks in school on a daily basis, and many teachers have installed hand sanitizers and wipes in their rooms. One sophomore described how wherever he went—school, subway stations, or academies—he saw a majority of Koreans with their faces covered and heads down.
“It’s almost like an apocalypse,” he said. “I hope this blows over soon.”
The outbreak of the coronavirus has caused many students and parents to wonder if school would close down. Some students have jokingly referred to the prospect of no school, remarking that they hoped such an event would occur to avoid schoolwork. Others, however, have expressed more grave perspectives on the matter.
“I really feel like school should be shut down,” one worried junior remarked. “The coronavirus isn’t a joke. It’s a really dangerous virus. I don’t feel safe coming to school right now.”
“I’m not just worried for myself, but also for my family,” said another student. “What if I contract the virus at school and unknowingly bring it back home? What then?”
To try to quell these concerns, the school has enacted measures to keep the coronavirus out of KIS. For one, they have installed heat sensors at the B3 and HS first floor entrances which alert supervisors when someone with a body temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius enters the school.
“This is to make sure that people with the symptoms of coronavirus don’t enter the school and potentially spread it,” said one supervisor.
Another measure that the school has taken is to lower the standard degree of a fever from 38 degrees to 37.5 degrees Celsius.
But even with all these preparations, students still feel uneasy.
“The school can’t afford to shut down, but can afford these fancy new machines? That just doesn’t make sense,” said a sophomore.
Another student suggested online school. “We can just have school online. That’s what technology is for, isn’t it?” she said. “Sometimes people with corona don’t even show the regular symptoms. We’re just coming into school every day with the blind faith that we’ll be fine.”
When asked if she felt as though the school was doing all they could to ensure her safety, she responded, “If they really wanted to keep us safe, they’d close school until this virus goes away, not make school a place where disaster is just waiting to happen.”
When students feel as though their health and livelihoods are threatened, that is when the school must go above and beyond to allay those fears.
— Lauren Cho (’22)