Where do we go from here?

We thank IGS Head Boy Parker Floris for his reflections on the impacts of COVID-19, now and in future.

Right now, we’re living through a time that will be marked in the history books as one of the worst medical and economic disasters our world has ever seen. Many millions of people have already or will lose their jobs, and many others are unsure how they will get through this ordeal. Also, schools are slowly closing, and students will have to find a way to continue their studies without the structure and certainty we usually have.

I showed up to school last week and it was a ghost town. The usually bustling IGS corridors had cleared, and all that remained were a few stragglers taking advantage of every last day we had with our cohort.

By now, most of us are trying to study from home. Everyone’s habits and routines have to change, and we must learn to live with our family 24/7, without driving each other mad. Some people may not be surrounded by a structure that can support a quality learning environment, so it is important to find ways in which they can support themselves.

An opportunity to be productive

It is also a perfect opportunity to learn how to study and be productive, especially with all the tempting distractions around us. This time will separate those who have a strong self-discipline with those who don’t. Nevertheless, the uncertainty this brings especially for those in their final years will be unsettling.

I have been talking with my mates in the UK who have been studying for months for their final exam, with the goal of returning to Australia to study. Despite all their efforts, these exams have now been called off, with no alternative in sight, and not knowing how they’ll progress into the next stages of their life. IGS’s Year 12 students are also approaching this stage and we hope that we will not have to experience the same uncertainty. For example, many of our final year Major Works may have to be altered or restarted completely, adding to the stresses of this situation.

Make this time as enjoyable as possible

This build-up of tension involving schooling and the home environment can have a negative impact and we must protect our mental health. So, what makes you happy? Is it chatting with friends or pursuing a hobby? If so, then find a way that you can do this on a daily basis, whether it be a late-night gaming session with your mates, chatting with people, or learn to cook. Either way, find something that you can do every day, that you truly love, to make this time just that more enjoyable.

And when this time passes…

At some point, the virus will subside, and the world will return to some level of normality. We will head back to school or work, and we will rebuild the economy and our livelihoods. Whether we grow as a community from this situation will depend on how we support each other through this: will we act from a scarcity or compassionate perceptive? Will we establish plans and measures that could prevent such an incident from occurring again?

If I’m honest, I believe we will not prepare for such an incident in the future. Perhaps nations will set up temporary agencies to look into such, but looking back, even just 10-15 years doesn’t bring much hope. After the Ebola crisis in 2014, the US established the ‘Global Health Security Office’, which observed and prepared against such pandemics but was shut down only four years later. Bill Gates also warned in 2015 of how unprepared the globe was of “a virus where people feel well enough while they’re infectious that they get on a plane or they go to a market”. Sound familiar?

Appreciating former freedoms

Societies and countries begin to relax when nothing happens in years, but this allows threats to slip through the cracks and become major issues. The one thing I think we will improve on as a society, is the appreciation of the freedoms we do have. The freedom to walk outside, to go on holiday, to visit a grandparent, to attend school, hang out with friends, and something as simple as a hug.

Come out the other side stronger and better than ever

Nevertheless, we’re here and all we can do is keep moving. We must make the most of the situation and act selflessly for the benefit of greater society. By doing this, we can come out the other side stronger, and ready to improve and build upon our own and the lives around us for the better.

Parker Floris
IGS 2020 Head Boy