Megan’s basketball team at the airport on Jan. 29 when there were only 8 cases in Taiwan.
I live in Taipei, Taiwan, and I am currently a sophomore at an international school. After two weeks of online classes and social distancing in March, my school reopened and has remained open for over a month now. Seeing the news and watching how the pandemic continues to ravage the globe feels strange when everything has mostly returned back to normal around here.
Right before we got out for spring break, my school announced that we would have online classes for a few weeks instead of coming back, so I only had a short time to get all my stuff together to take home with me. I have this project for my research class that is very time-sensitive, so to have everything suddenly cancelled was extremely disorienting.
Everyone had different reactions to the transition to online school. While some of my friends enjoyed having classes start later and a more flexible schedule to get work done, I struggled to stay engaged through the new structure and began to feel lonely without my friends as well. But I eventually adjusted, and online school only lasted for three weeks anyway.
When we returned to school, there were a few major changes implemented, but they all seem minuscule compared to the ways in which this pandemic has upturned the lives of people elsewhere. Everyone is required to wear a mask. I already cough a lot because of my seasonal allergies, which is harder to deal with now, considering that people think that anyone coughing has the virus.
We also have regular temperature checks and have to sanitize our hands very often. My school set up tents in the courtyard so that about a third of the students could eat outside instead of in the cafeteria. Limiting the number of people at each table, they try to spread everyone out. There isn’t really anything different about our classes; our classrooms were pretty spacious to begin with, and only one of my teachers decided to distance us further by moving the desks into exam seating. We were supposed to have a walkathon fundraiser today, but the school decided against it in an effort to avoid any large gatherings. Instead, we had an event to raise funds where teachers sang karaoke.
I think that the Taiwanese government handled everything very well. They were extremely proactive in implementing certain restrictions to contain the virus. I’m not sure if social distancing was actually required by law, but people here usually follow the government recommendations anyways.
I had a basketball tournament right before the spike in cases, and even back then, the airport had a lot of new screenings, such as temperature checks and additional forms to fill out. Addressing the situation right away allowed schools and businesses to reopen here after only a short time. We are one of very few countries where schools are still open.
It’s crazy to see how drastically this pandemic has affected the rest of the world when life has seemed to already return to normal here. Listening to the news now is extremely frustrating, and it’s scary to hear about what is happening internationally. I think it’s wrong for anyone to prioritize the economy over human life. In the long term we can’t let our economy fail, but I think it’s important to value people’s health foremost.
I am very thankful for the normalcy that I have in my life at the moment; having to wear a mask to school is the only major difference. Social distancing is temporary, and taking this kind of action to prioritize people’s safety and health is what will ultimately help us to fight the pandemic.
Written by: Annalisa Fang