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Over the past few weeks, Peterborough has encountered a number of scares related to the COVID-19 pandemic. With the recent resolution of the Fairhaven Long-Term Care Home and the Adam Scott High School outbreaks – determined by Peterborough Public Health, eyes are now turning to Peterborough’s progress in containing their cases – which are remarkably low compared to the rest of Ontario. Still, the promise and news of active containment of the virus was never sound enough for many of the citizens of Peterborough to assume that this pandemic is far from over. Indeed, if the pandemic were to be regarded in the same instance as a great fire, Peterborough would still be far enough from the blaze, but not nearly remote enough to not see the smoke. And it is precisely the fact that the smoke is visible that keeps Peterborough on its toes.
The town is situated between two major hotspots for COVID-19: Ottawa and Toronto. With the multitude of students returning to Peterborough from many different places in Canada and abroad, the case presents itself for those who have returned to conduct themselves with reasonable due diligence – watching their health and the health of others. With news of anti-mask rallies taking place in the larger metropolitan areas of Canada, it is critical that Peterborough and Trent University maintain their policies to protect the people.
The infamous “bridge party” that occurred in early September has also posed some concern for the students returning to Trent, as well as the global reputation of the University. A phone recording of the people that attended was shared on social media pages such as (@trentpartylife) and (@canadianpartylife), which was then highlighted on Global News as the post became viral. The exact number of people that were in attendance is unknown.
Arthur turned to a number of individuals that wanted to express how they feel about the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it is affecting their lives.
Connor Stinson is a fourth-year student who described the challenges the pandemic has placed on his career as a local musician:
“COVID-19 has definitely been a difficult challenge for all of us. As a student, musician, and a person in general, it's been a really difficult time. On the music side of things, my career has been turned upside down. My career as a student has also been turned upside down in terms of being removed from my stable learning environment, to moving towards online – which has its own challenges but still a fairly good workaround. The music industry remains in a very unstable condition, which worries me. But I’m confident we'll be able to bounce back once this thing has cleared up in a proper fashion. When I say cleared up, I mean officially moved past it and not saying “were over it” and carrying on. That’s something I’ve seen in other industries. Really, right now it's just about keeping our heads down and grinding to make sure we can get over this situation.”
Caitlin Burkholder is a fourth-year student who will be graduating after the fall semester. As she entered a new job during the pandemic, she describes the various changes that occurred between professional protocols and their relations with their customers:
“I work for a retail company, and we’ve started to have to implement a lot of different shifts where one shift, you’re a greeter so you have to keep track of people coming in, which is not something we’ve ever did before. We have to sanitize all the carts, baskets, and the customers don’t really know what they’re doing, sometimes throwing carts everywhere. It’s a bit of a mess. There are other shifts where we clean all the high-touch surfaces in a rotation between four different spots. We had a customer the other day who came in and took their mask off, and told us he was sick, and so we had to ask him to leave…”
She also had this to say about the September bridge party.
“… I understand that partying and going out is a big part of university culture, especially for first years. But at Trent… I’d like to think we're a pretty understanding community and we’re very blessed to be where we are. It was so disrespectful, to put it nicely. It's disgusting, I think. As an upper-year student who’s also trying to graduate, all of my final-year stuff has been cancelled/done differently so none of my classes are on campus, so I never get to go there. I’ve heard people who were at that bridge party, and were just like “Oh, well it was fun” but at the end of the day, there’s lives that are being affected by this. Your one fun night of partying isn’t worth some else’s life. I have one friend that’s pretty immunocompromised and she hasn’t been able to leave her house at all since this started. She can’t come back to Trent, and she’s supposed to be graduating this year. She can’t come back to her school and see her friends, all because of people partying.”
Kailey Grant is a former Fleming student who lives in the downtown core. She spoke about the impacts of isolation on her and her friends:
“As COVID-19 approached Peterborough, I had many mixed feelings. I was fortunate to be living with a large support system and unfortunately know many people who didn’t/don’t have that same opportunity. Many of my friends who live entirely alone (without roommates) were hit very differently than I was. This meant that a lot of them began struggling with their mental health and began putting their physical health at risk by meeting with people outside of their household for any human connection. Come July, about 4-ish months since the city had gone into lockdown, I moved out of my family home and into my own apartment. As soon as I did so, I started to experience a side of depression I had never seen in myself. This was because the coping mechanisms that I had always been taught in many counselling sessions were nearly impossible for me to put into practice. Because of the pandemic I no longer could ask for physical affection from my friends/family or go out for coffee and tasks that used to be simple and done mindlessly (like shopping) had to be well thought out and anxiety inducing. Living alone during the pandemic has caused me to delve into a loneliness I had never before experienced."
Jeffery Jung is a Trent Student who is currently working in South Korea. He describes the differences between what he has seen between the two countries
“From what I heard about Canada, the 2nd wave spiked when school reopened so I assumed it was because of the poor planning from the schools’ part. Most of them don’t have the plastic cubicles covering each student’s desk, and the mandatory masks - regardless of each and health condition, etc. As for Korea, COVID is being handled extremely well compared to other nations but it is extremely exhausting; a lot of people are starting to feel this burnout of constantly being mindful and reminded that COVID is with us.”
We are open to hearing commentary from our readership about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org