the coronavirus and campus life

During a Zoom meeting this morning, a student asked me if I think it will be safe to return to campus in January.

I believe in giving honest answers to honest questions.

In this case, I’m sad to say that the answer is no. I do not think it will be safe to return to campus in January.

This week the coronavirus is causing more infections and deaths than ever before.


To put these numbers in perspective, consider the number of students enrolled at the school where I teach. According to the California Department of Education profile, total enrollment at Santa Maria High School is 2720.


Imagine that for a moment. Everyone dead. In one day.

I understand that people want to be able to open schools and return to campus. However, without the money to properly update classrooms and ventilation systems, and without the willpower to maintain protocols that would have to accompany a “new normal” (can you imagine all students keeping their hands off each other for an hour?), I don’t see it happening anytime soon. I don’t want my own children returning to school right now either.

I hope that we can all manage to control the virus in the coming months. Right now, as a society, we’re blowing it, so please focus on what you can control. Stay healthy. Maintain social distance. Stay home if you can. Wear a mask.

During World War II, English Prime Minister Winston Churchill famously said, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” So it is with us today. Many people feel tired, bored, broke, hungry, and justifiably frustrated or even angry at leaders who are not leading us through this.

And the virus doesn’t care. If we make mistakes that expose us or our loved ones, the virus will eat us. Plain and simple.

So, as you go about the business of living today, please remember: this is bigger than politics or school. This is about staying alive to tell your story. Let me be the first to wish you a joyous reunion celebration with all of your family, friends, neighbors, and classmates — when it’s safe.