Finding Hope in the Age of COVID


Well, the 3-week term is behind us, and the 11-week term is now underway.  Outside, the leaves are changing, and if you step outside at night you can feel the first nip of winter, which is of course just a prelude to the big November-February freeze.  Students everywhere are now sitting down, looking at their already Hydra-esque “to do” list, and are wondering just what in the world they’ve gotten themselves into.

            Yes, in many ways, 2020-21 is shaping up to be a typical school year.  No one can deny, though, that a lot is different this year, too.  Campus, usually a bustling of hub of activity during the 11-week, is empty now, almost cavernous.  It might not be quite as weird for the first-years on campus right now (though I’m guessing it’s probably still pretty weird to see a school building so empty), but for the rest of us who either can’t be on campus because we live too far away, or who have been there and seen how unnaturally empty it is…it’s pretty overwhelming.

            And it gets even more overwhelming when you think about why it’s this way.

            COVID-19.  The novel coronavirus that’s disrupted pretty much everyone’s lives, made a lot of our lives significantly worse, and has even ended a staggering number of lives.  It’s been more than six months now since COVID-19 first shut down the province (taking in-person classes with it), and there’s still no sign of it going away.  In fact, public health officials have warned that, now that schools are open, we could be heading straight for a staggering second wave.

            With all this in mind, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.  It’s easy to feel like there’s no hope.  It’s easy to feel like this pandemic, the worst public health crisis the world has faced in a century, will never end.

            However, there are some reasons to hope.  Every day that passes brings us closer to a viable vaccine; there are multiple different vaccines going through clinical trials right now.  Social distancing regulations have done a great job slowing down the virus; go take a look at where the curve was headed late last April, when we hit our peak cases here in Alberta, and then take a look at how flat the curve has remained since then.

            And then there’s the simple fact that, despite how much COVID-19 has disrupted our lives, we still have lives to lead.  That, in and of itself, is a blessing.  And, for the vast majority of you reading this right now, those lives will still have a future.  The vast majority of us still have a career, graduate studies, or some other “next step” on the horizon.

            I’m confident that, if we keep taking it one day at a time, and keep in mind the brighter, pandemic-free future that’s sure to be on the horizon, we can get through this.  We may have more dark days ahead of us, but I also believe that every day that passes brings us closer to the light.

            In the meantime, let’s all do our best to have a great year…or at least as great as circumstances will allow.

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