Carina Cole ’22, Features Editor
It is abundantly clear that the coronavirus has affected everyone in some way. But what may be less clear is how this virus has affected the Mercersburg community as a whole, past the social distancing on the quad, masks in dorms, and online classes on beds instead of wooden desks in Irvine. The coronavirus has had a tremendous impact on student, faculty, and staff mental health, and has given us all a reality check, throwing students and the entire Mercersburg community into a new realization about what they love about Mercersburg and what they may have taken for granted in the past.
Surprisingly, one of the things that many students miss most about school is the average day on campus. Waking up, going to class and then pga, and following the same schedule day in and day out in a comforting blanket of routine. Julia Mills ‘22 reaffirms the common sentiment of missing her old daily schedule, and shares that “things feel like they will never be the same again.” Mills has noticed that she misses the simple joys of life on campus and life in a Covid-free world, which has made her and others feel isolated and lost. She also adds that her family contracted the virus in late December, despite taking numerous precautions and leaving the house as little as possible, which furthered the discomfort and loneliness she had already felt. Another student, Melody Howe ’22, expressed her fears during the beginning of the pandemic because of the lack of action and information about the virus, especially because she lives with her grandparents and her brothers who both have type 1 diabetes. Rather than being stuck in a tedious state of boredom and isolation, Howe and her family have been confined in a constant state of anxiety. Her grandfather tested positive for having the antibodies of the virus, while her grandmother tested negative. This shows the confusion the virus has brought for many families, even those living together in the same home. Families have had to deal with confusing test results that can increase their apprehension and fear of the virus.
The problems surrounding the Coronavirus on a school campus are not limited to those affecting students and their families. English Department faculty member Kristen Ahlgren notes that it has been disheartening seeing her four children lonely and missing daily social life on campus, although she is incredibly grateful that no one in her family contracted the virus. Ahlgren points out that “this year has been really hard on students and young people” because they are missing such an important part of their formative years. She herself misses sit-down meals in the dining hall filled with laughter and the energy of taking bus rides to and from sports games, but she has also made an effort to find the silver lining of the pandemic. Ahlgren is happy that she has had “many family dinners that we wouldn’t have been able to have if Covid restrictions hadn’t kept us all together at home”.
Additional Mercersburg staff members have also felt the strain of the virus on campus and beyond. José Nuñez, annual giving officer, gives a unique perspective of being a new parent during the pandemic. Nuñez notes the additional stress and difficulties of being a first-time parent during the pandemic, especially considering his son Rafael was born on March 14, 2020 at the beginning of the Pennsylvania shutdown. Nuñez recalls that he “entered the hospital hearing about cases in San Francisco but left with restrictions in restaurants, shopping, etc. It felt like a completely different world.”
Mercersburg always has different stories and experiences from every community member, and this has been no different during the coronavirus pandemic. Every student, faculty member, and staff member has experienced the unique difficulties and changes the coronavirus has brought to their lives, and all are adapting to how these experiences, good and bad, will change their perspectives about life at Mercersburg moving forward to what we all hope will be a post-Covid return to “normal” life — something that we all will appreciate much more deeply than we did before the pandemic.