We live in a world that is saturated with information, and what information it is saturated with isn’t always tailored to people’s best interests.
Take this last week’s news cycle as an example:
Within the past weeks there has been a major upsurge in the prevalence of the Omicron coronavirus variant. As infections pile up, it seems like every news organization in the country is reporting on the statistics. The director of the CDC Rochelle Walensky said that every day the amount of new Omicron cases is doubling.
This is having real world affects. Public school districts from Maine, to Minnesota, to Texas, to Detroit, and more, have been announcing that they are moving back to remote learning as a response to the prevalence of the variant, and this has lead many parents and students to have anxiety about what the future may hold.
Universities are responding as well. Cornell has closed down the campus during the final exam weeks due to a spike in infection cases. And on Tuesday Dec. 21, after about 1,681 Cornell students tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 10 days, the University announced that for the spring semester, booster shots are mandated for all students, faculty and staff, in addition to the COVID vaccine. Stanford University announced that it would move to online instruction for the first two weeks of the Winter quarter, Harvard University, UCLA, and UCSD made a similar announcement.
New worries about the coronavirus haven’t been the only reason that schools have been introducing new safety measures. Old fears of violence in schools has been rekindled in recent weeks.
A new Tik-Tok trend encouraging students to post school shooting threats on the platform has lead to widespread fear all around the country, and while the threats were deemed not-credible by law enforcement, many schools are still taking measures to make sure that the trend doesn’t inspire any real threats.
After closures and additional security were put in place across the country, dozens of students from the age of 13 to16 have been arrested for participation in the ‘challenge.’ Both the threats, and the necessary counter-measures by law enforcement, amount to a tragic situation.
All of this has many people feeling trapped and anxious. For many it feels like after there has finally been loosening of covid restrictions, the outcome has been greater prevalence of new variants, as well as an uptick in anxieties about an American school shooting epidemic that may have been partially forgotten during long-term school closures. Students who went through online school during the pandemic are now comfortably in person, and the thought of returning to online school makes them worried and frustrated.
These anxieties are warranted, and it is normal for parents and students to be feeling worried about all of the news that has been circulating in recent weeks. It is important to remember one of the most important lessons of the pandemic, however, that no matter how difficult it is, it is necessary to take a break from the news cycle every so often.
People can often feel like they are stuck looking at the news every day—the feed of information is constantly so negative that their worries of not being in the loop keeps them scrolling through news apps and sites. Feelings of worry make people seek comfort in information, but that information is what is bringing the anxiety in the first place. This cycle can lead many to isolate themselves, or struggle to find happiness in this turbulent world.
To some degree many news organizations are incentivized to share information that plays on this effect, and the negatives of this came to a height during the pandemic, when people had a large amount of free time to browse the news and read about the things going on around them.
Caution is warranted, but working to strike a balance in what has become a very lopsided world can be a positive measure for anyone’s personal health. In such a turbulent world, constant worry does no help.
There has also been some positive news that headlines have been glossing over. The vaccine has been largely effective at reducing the number and severity of cases, and even more so with the booster. Along with this, researchers think that they may soon be able to release treatment pills for those who contract the coronavirus, and this might help reduce the chances that schools will need to move to, or stay in online instruction.
Medical professionals and governments are much more prepared than they once were, and despite the scare of Tik-Tok threats, as of now, no attacks have been realized.
And not all schools are looking at moving online. On Dec. 16, Princeton announced that the winter quarter will still be in-person, but booster shots are mandated in the upcoming spring term.
The holiday season is here. Along with a dose of realism about the difficulties that are coming into play, it is important to take time to slow down, take a deep breath, and spend stress free time doing things that make you comfortable. This can be on your own or with loved ones, and having the intentionality to separate yourself for a little while here and there can increase the amount of joy that you feel in your day to day life.
Take all of the necessary precautions, but try to have a cup of hot cocoa somewhere along the way, and celebrate as much as you can.
Thanks so much for a fruitful year of 2021! Happy Holidays from all of us at 7EDU!
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