While Penn’s response to the coronavirus outbreak lacked haste and clear details in execution, the time the administration took certainly shows an effort to make the most careful decisions. Amid other Ivy League institutions enacting many of the same precautions, and small to large scale shutdowns across the world, Penn’s decision should be taken seriously.
On March 11, alongside President Amy Gutmann and Provost Wendell Pritchett's email to the Penn community stating that spring semester classes will be moved online, came the announcement of the coronavirus as a pandemic. For the sake of our fellow students, faculty, and global citizens, Penn students need to understand and adhere to precautions set for the sake of public safety while taking advantage of this unique time in history by rethinking the way they deal with schoolwork and taking care of themselves.
Many of Penn’s changes for the rest of the semester fall in line with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pushing in order to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus – avoid close contact, stay home when possible, and keep public areas sanitized. Moving to online courses for the semester allows for inherent social distancing, Penn buildings to be properly cleaned, and the cancellation of large-scale events – which have proven to allow rapid transmission of the virus. Students need to make sure that they are not only doing what is best for them, but acting selflessly by returning safety to their communities.
Penn students are notorious for being competitive and hard-working. Why not take this time to rethink the way we approach academics while the whole education system is being shifted globally to virtual, remote learning? While our education is being reconceptualized, let’s take advantage of the situation and read books, write essays, and collaborate with students in novel ways that don’t stunt creativity.
With more time being spent at home, students might be bored in the age of social distancing. Again, why not look at the glass half full in these extreme circumstances? Penn students are intellectuals. Take the time to read for fun, watch interesting movies, and sleep more.
The precautions set out by the University, the CDC, and the World Health Organization all play crucial roles in lowering the speed of COVID-19 – but it starts with us Penn students taking precautions seriously for the elderly and immunocompromised in our community. And though it is a jarring and emotionally exhausting time to be living in, there are times in history where the world needs each of us to do our own part. This is one of those times. And it doesn’t have to be all negative. Students should respond to the moment we are in by reshaping the approach to academics and taking care of ourselves while limiting social interactions.
Editorials represent the majority view of members of The Daily Pennsylvanian, Inc. Editorial Board, which meets regularly to discuss issues relevant to Penn's campus. Participants in these meetings are not involved in the reporting of articles on related topics.