As social distancing has become the best way to slow the rapid expansion of COVID-19 — the respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus — many people have had to self-quarantine. I became one of these people when I returned from my study abroad in Italy at the beginning of the month. Though I didn’t know what to expect entering quarantine, I knew it was my civic responsibility.
Over time, I came to realize this is an opportunity to spend quality time with our families — if you’re quarantining at home — or pick up a new hobby. It’s a time to get closer to your siblings you don’t see as much anymore or learn a song on the piano that hasn’t been used since last Christmas Eve.
The coronavirus in Illinois has infected more than 1,200 people and caused 16 deaths as of publication. A Loyola student has tested positive for the coronavirus, and the university has transitioned to completely online courses for the rest of the semester as a result of the virus.
I returned home to Columbus, Ohio March 2, as all students were required to do. At this time, Loyola required all students returning from Italy to quarantine at home and monitor their health over the next two weeks. This entailed taking our temperature at least twice a day and checking for symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing.
“Quarantine” is a daunting word. I often think of “The Boy in the Plastic Bubble,” a 1970s movie about a kid who spends the majority of his childhood shielded from the real world. Though I was inspired to do my part in stopping the spread of COVID-19, I was a little overwhelmed by the concept at the start.
The first few days in quarantine, I felt like a kid in timeout again. I couldn’t go outside, was annoyed with the situation and didn’t know when it was going to end. I was driven knowing I was doing what was best for society, but it didn’t take long for the boredom and frustration to set in.
With this in mind, I went about setting up a schedule for my time in quarantine. I wanted this two-week period to be productive and figured it would be nice to have some structure to my days.
I vowed to wake up by 8 a.m. every morning, play the guitar, workout, get ahead on school work and maybe even make a few TikTok videos. As one would expect, it didn’t take long for me to deviate from this schedule — especially waking up early
Instead, I found most of my days were spent doing a few of these things, while the rest of my time was spent watching Netflix or catching up with my parents, both of whom have transitioned to working from home.
In a way, this was nice. I’m limited on the time I have left living at home with my family, and this time of social distancing is a great opportunity to spend time with my parents and siblings.
So rather than only focus my time in quarantine on getting ahead in school, I’ve made it about watching movies with my parents, catching up with my sister or shooting hoops with my brother — always at the recommended 6-foot distance, of course.
Though my period of quarantining ended the evening of March 16, a stay-at-home order has been placed in my home state of Ohio — requiring all individuals to only leave the house to get essentials, such as going to grocery stores and pharmacies and to practice proper social distancing.
Safety is the number one priority right now. Practicing social distancing and quarantining is one of the best ways to slow down the spread of the virus, according to the World Health Organization. It’s uncertain how long the pandemic will last, but it’s on us to follow instructions from experts and do our part to slow down the virus.
Sometimes all we need to do to keep others safe is spend a little more time with our parents.