Social Distancing

It is important today to acknowledge the spread of COVID-19 and its effect upon schools and families. Nothing like this has happened in modern times, although the spread of SARS and EBOLA are reference points. The actual outcomes of a pandemic will be substantial but the anticipatory anxiety over what might be is the most important experience to focus on right now.

Anticipatory Anxiety

The anticipation of what might happen can be overwhelming to us and to our children and students. Leadership is tensioned between waving the flag of we will all be fine and we all need to take precautions and stay home. None of this is easy to figure out and it changes every day, sometimes every hour. And what are we to do with this anxiety? Check in with the news, move on to other activities, don’t stay in your PJs all day long, get out and walk, talk with the children about their anxiety, and be thoughtful at how the news of this develops. Do not get into a full-blown panic.

News of the Virus

Speaking of the news of this virus, have you noticed how quickly things change? It is probably true of large events for many participants, that in the unknown, things change. One of the things I noticed today was that asymptomatic signs are not that unusual with this kind of disease and that means the usual way we understand someone else is sick, is visually, they look sick. But the lack of any sign that you have the virus is helping to spread the virus in ways we cannot see and we cannot predict and this makes us nervous.

For example, young people, people traveling and even older people can be carriers and not show any signs of sickness. This may be one of the reasons that people are hesitant to close their business—they want to stay open for the people who are not sick and to keep their business alive! Unfortunately, asymptomatic exposure means that the spread of the virus can go unchecked, and that means many more cases, exponentially more, than we have anticipated could develop. The news of so many places closing is in anticipation of reducing the amount of contact with unknown, or asymptomatic carriers of the disease. The outcome is a loss of business, or even the business itself.

Going Forward

It is possible to see that we will shut down much of our social interaction through schools and restaurants, bars and hotels, and gatherings of 50 or more people. This may last for a month or two. But our lives will return, our freedom to move about will return and our sense of well-being will return as well. Time and precaution are on our side and we can look forward to a better time ahead.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

Dr. Robert A. Southworth, Jr.

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