COVID-19 News

The coronavirus upends life at Pinewood and around the world

By Eva Liu and Aanya Sethi


As a result of the Coronavirus breakout, many schools all over the state, including Pinewood, have shut down campuses temporarily to do their part for their community. Pinewood is expected to restart school on May 4, but that still depends on the specific instructions of Santa Clara county. All classes are being held online through Zoom, which has produced many inconveniences. Teachers have a much higher workload since they have to make screencasts and find videos that make the online classes more interesting. 

   “I am on my computer 10 hours a day,” biology teacher Monica Ventrice said. 

   Teachers and students aren’t the only ones with an increased workload. President Scott Riches has noticed a rise as well.

   “For myself and the rest of the administration, our workload has had a dramatic increase in order to help implement the program, make sure it runs smoothly, and answer the many questions from parents, students and teachers along the way,” Riches said.

   This extra work does seem to be paying off. Senior Esmi Pistelak appreciates all the extra time and effort that the teachers and administrators are putting into making sure her education is not being sacrificed.

   “I don’t feel like I am missing out on anything education-wise,” Pistelak said.

   Junior Morgan van der Linde noticed the upsides of remote learning as well. 

   “I think remote learning has allowed me to sleep for a lot longer as I have a pretty large commute time,” van der Linde said. 

   However, there are some definite downsides for both teachers and students. Van der Linde noticed that she is much less motivated to do her work. Junior Nikhila Nanduri noticed the difficulties of social distancing. 

    “I feel as though my social life has definitely been compromised. I used to go around and talk to people at lunch but since I’ve been at home it’s been way harder,” Nanduri said.

   For the teachers, physics Yong-chan Kim remarked that classroom management becomes more tricky because he can’t tell how on task the students are. 

   “My view is restricted by what’s on camera. It’s a new process to engage student progression; I can’t walk around and kinda look over kids’ shoulders to see what they have done and whether they are stuck or not,” Kim said. 

   Remote learning probably has affected the senior class the most. This year’s graduating class is especially upset that many of their ‘lasts’ might be canceled. 

   “We want to dance together at Prom and throw our caps in the air together at graduation. We want senior ditch day and our last letterman Luau. We want graduation night at Disneyland, our choir concert, sports, and the Spring Musical. But, we don’t know if we’ll be able to have those things. The things we have been looking forward to for all of high school,” Pistelak said.

   It has not been decided whether the Spring Musical will still be taking place. Currently, various options are still being explored. A live stream without an audience, or having a limited audience are two possibilities. 

   Despite all these terrible circumstances, the seniors are staying strong and making the best out of a bad situation. 

   “The class of 2020 has such a strong bond and we’ve truly connected even more because of this whole situation. We know that our senior year won’t be what we all originally expected, but we are going to do everything we can to make it as memorable as possible,” Pistelak said.

   Even though remote learning and social distancing may be difficult, history teacher Trainor observes some positive energy amid this chaos. 

    “The kindness of people really comes out in these moments, and I think that’s something we need to keep in mind too,” Trainor said. 

   Pistelak agrees, emphasizing the importance of individuals cooperating to save our community.

   “As long as we as a community on earth are doing our part to help the problem, we just have to hope for the best and be able to adapt and overcome,” Pistelak said. 

   Outside of the Pinewood community, the virus is rapidly spreading. It has reached all 50 states and territories. However, the number is likely much higher. This possible discrepancy is due to the lack of testing. State governments are taking a more active lead before the federal government implements stricter restrictions. California, New York, Connecticut, and Illinois declared a ‘shelter in place’ strongly advising all citizens to stay inside their homes unless necessary. Trainor applauded the proactiveness of the state governments.

   “They’re not waiting for Washington,” Trainor said.

   Many argue that actions like a ‘shelter in place’ are needed to stop the spread of the virus. Some have even recommended a national lockdown. However, other factors need to be considered before the entire country gets quarantined. For example, the stock market has already taken a big hit, and the unemployment rate is rising with more and more businesses closing. To reduce economic stress, the federal government has passed a $2 trillion economic stimulus plan. Even with the relief package, Trainor presents an economic dilemma that the virus has caused, and it is about picking the best option out of two bad scenarios. 

   “The Treasury Secretary is predicting 20% unemployment; a serious social upheaval is possible. [However, on the other hand,] maybe more economic damages would [be done] if the virus was allowed to spread,” Trainor said. 

   In addition to a possible economic recession, civil rights are at the center of the discussion of placing more aggressive precautionary measures. London Mayor Sadiq Khan thinks the conversation is more black and white –– civil rights can be infringed to save lives. However, Trainor notes that British political system is different; therefore, American politicians need to be more careful with using their authority to impose stricter restrictions. Kim believes that civil rights and public health can coexist. 

   “I think with the right management, we can take care of the public health without infringing on civil rights,” Kim said. 

   Many, including Trainor, are worried that the U.S. is heading in the wrong direction. 

   “Our trajectory right now is looking a lot more like Italy… and that’s not good,” Trainor said. 

   The situation is grave in Italy. Doctors are essentially having to choose which patients to keep alive and continue giving hospital resources to and which to send home, possibly to their death. Ventrice emphasized that the U.S. must do everything to ensure that the healthcare system can take care of people when they inevitably get sick, including a nationwide quarantine. 

   “The problem is more about the health care system… If we don’t [put the whole nation on lockdown,] it’s just going to be a huge strain on the healthcare system. Doctors are having to make awful decisions [in Italy, and] that could easily happen here,” Ventrice said.

    Some of the countries stopped releasing the specific number of cases. There are also controversies about whether numbers have falsified to reduce public panic. Trainor thinks that full transparency would be most beneficial and logical in the U.S..

   “In a democracy, it’s better that people trust what the government says. Understanding the relationship the American people have with the American government is really important, especially during a time like this,” Trainor said.

   This is something California Governor Gavin Newsom seems to agree with. In an address to the state on March 19, Newsom gave some startling statistics about the possible effects of Coronavirus. He estimated that unless something is done to slow the spread now, 56 percent of the state would be infected. That is 25.5 million lives. This would completely overwhelm the healthcare system and likely cause many unnecessary deaths. To prevent this, Newsom announced a statewide ‘shelter in place,’ leading the country with the strictest restrictions. Some may think that this is an overreaction, but Ventrice strongly disagrees. 

   “That’s not an overreaction. Making sure people are being taken care of is the basic, humane thing to do,” Ventrice said