By: Melody Howe ‘22 News Reporter
As a new eleventh grader at Mercersburg Academy, I made the unexpected decision this term not to return to campus for in-person learning this Winter. Although I highly appreciate the efforts and sacrifices that Mercersburg has made for its students, I have associated negative feelings with the dark upcoming season, and the pressure of the presidential election and the fate of our country with the coronavirus pandemic has raised fear across the nation. Therefore, the uncertainty of what may transpire in this country has caused me to make this harsh decision in regards to my mental health.
COVID-19 is a new and difficult experience that the world has been forced to suffer and grow accustomed to. I have two brothers, and both were recently diagnosed with type-1 diabetes; therefore, at the height of the pandemic, my family feared leaving the house, as both brothers are high-risk. The ability for me to go outdoors and enjoy the spring weather has kept me balanced. Now, with less sunlight and the approach of the cold and flu season, I know that winter will be a different emotional challenge when combined with the pandemic.
In addition, when making my decision, I considered the nation’s dangerous division due to the upcoming election between Biden and Trump. Specifically, as an individual who has recognized the racial injustice and sexism President Trump’s rhetoric has caused, I dread the results our country may face. I believe Trump has lacked attentiveness and proper guidance regarding the deadly virus and significant political movements, such as Black Lives Matter. Personally, I feel that the United States has never been more politically divided, and either candidate winning the election will cause an outrage. I believe that the best place for me to mentally accept and deal with whatever results may come will be my house, with my family.
Lastly, I feel as though Mercersburg has lacked consistency with COVID monitoring amongst the students. It is difficult to determine whether one’s actions are COVID-appropriate, as faculty police students for an accidental mistake but ignore or look past others. There is no definite solution to what the next step would be if there were a COVID outbreak. The constant pressure and feelings of uncertainty have made me question if Mercersburg is prepared for these tough forthcoming months. Complete security is nearly impossible for a boarding school to dictate during this pandemic, so I knew that it would be in my best interest to remain home, both for my mental health, and for the health of my family.