President Tuajuanda Jordan Releases Updates on College’s COVID-19 Procedures in Townhall Meeting

By Olivia Sothoron

On Thursday, Sept. 17, Tuajuanda Jordan sent out an email to the entire St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) community announcing that the administration would be holding a Town Hall in regards to the College’s response to the new COVID-19 cases emerging on campus. President Jordan, as well as Provost Michael Wick, Wellness Center Director Laurie Scherer, Dean Derek Young, Vice President for Business and Chief Financial Officer Paul Pusecker and Interim Vice President for Student Affairs Shana Meyer addressed concerns over the Zoom call. 

Jordan explained that the way in which the College monitors the status of COVID-19 cases on campus relies upon the college community’s positivity rate for four consecutive days, the positivity rate for two consecutive weeks, the quarantine isolation capacity as well as the county and state conditions. Throughout the meeting, Jordan kept emphasizing that “no one factor will cause the transition to remote learning.” 

One hopeful remark from Jordan during the meeting was that the College is not yet in a position that has made the administration begin to consider transitioning to fully remote learning. She continued that if the College does at some point come to this decision to go fully remote, they will work with the residential population to continue addressing the needs of students who have no place to go. 

In order to clear up confusion and to address questions which are frequently asked of the administration, Scherer explained the difference between various terms which are associated with the efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. She defined “isolation” as “what happens to somebody who has COVID-19 and is a way to keep them away from the population.” “Quarantine,” on the contrary, is for “someone who has been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19. These people are to isolate, assess their symptoms and monitor their health.” She defined “close contact” as being “within six feet of someone for longer than 15 minutes,” and most close contact will be eliminated through the use of masks. 

Scherer also announced that the Wellness Center would begin conducting surveillance testing beginning on Sept. 20. An email will be sent out to randomly selected SMCM students–both residential and commuters–faculty and staff to be tested at an on-campus site. The point of surveillance testing, Jordan explained, is to look at the asymptomatic population in order to mitigate the spread of the virus by those who are not displaying symptoms. The surveillance testing is set up through the University of Maryland System and it promises results within 48 hours. University of Maryland Baltimore County is the primary vendor for all on-campus testing in all of Maryland. 

After the administrators spoke, Jordan opened the meeting up for questions. One of the questions asked was in regards to the campus’ decision to continue to allow tours, while preventing friends and family members of students from visiting campus. The administrators explained that the College is only allowing one tour per tour guide at all times, families must wear a mask and must maintain social distance at all times and visitors are asked to complete the symptom check and use hand sanitizer upon entrance. In addition, tours have been shortened to reduce the number of indoor locations that the prospective students visit, and all restrooms are off limits except for the restrooms in the Admissions Building. Tours are continuing in order to “provide the support for prospective students to see campus in a restricted way.”

Another question asked was in regards to the College’s ability to ensure that students are abiding by isolation requests. Director Scherer explained that any student who has tested positive or has symptoms is asked to isolate in a specific unit. In addition, the Wellness Center staff is in contact with the students in isolation daily in order to check in to see how they are doing. Students who test positive also have the option to go home. She also mentioned that a person living with someone who has tested positive should also be quarantined. 

These are very challenging and stressful times and it is important that everyone takes the proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. In addition, there are various sources across campus to provide help to students, staff and faculty. Scherer remarked: “Watch your health, use the symptom checker and make sure that you are doing okay. If you have any questions, please let [the Wellness Center] know. We care about your health and safety.”

All of the information regarding the College’s procedures for handling COVID-19 can be found on the COVID-19 dashboard on the SMCM website.

Artist Feature: Erin Moran ’20 Creates Art through Graphic Design

Written By: Olivia Sothoron

Erin Moran (‘20) is completing her major in art and a minor in anthropology. She has worked to focus her coursework on graphic design specifically within the fine arts field. Throughout her time at the college, she has created various artworks for the College, including creating the cover of the Fall 2020 edition of “The Mulberry Tree” and designing a t-shirt which is sold in the Campus Store. 

Moran came to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) after completing her associate’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in graphic design. While she was enrolled in community college, she gained valuable experience with graphic design. She explained:  “A lot of my community college classes were digital media courses. I did a small internship with my community colleges athletic department where I was able to practice and learn new software.” This internship allowed Moran to gain experience working with various software programs and further developed her skills as a graphic designer. 

Although the SMCM Art Department does offer a few courses in digital media, many of Moran’s experiences come from her work around campus, creating digital art to promote the College. For the past year, she has worked as an intern in the Office of Integrated Marketing under Keely Houk (‘17) and has produced various publications used by the College’s social media sites as well as around campus. Moran stated that she found this position with Houk through a recommendation by one of her professors. She remarked, “Keely is the most amazing mentor and has taught me so much!”

Many artists have a creative process for producing their art, and Moran’s process is to sit down at a computer and jump right into the designing process. Her experience with various softwares allows her to have a firm understanding of which programs work best for certain artworks, and she is able to produce wonderfully crafted pieces through graphic design. In regards to her design process, Moran mentioned: “I skip right to the computer to sketch my designs. I think about what I want to do and just go for it.”

One of Moran’s more recent designs is featured as the cover of the Fall 2020 edition of the College’s alumni magazine, “The Mulberry Tree.” Moran brainstormed a cover page that demonstrates the various contributions and efforts of members of the SMCM community during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of the cover is the impact of technology, which is something that has been able to keep people together during this uncertain time. Moran stated: “I brainstormed how COVID-19 has impacted my life and the lives of my fellow students. Technology has been a huge part of everyone’s lives and although we are all distant, the technology brings us together.”

After graduating from SMCM, Moran plans to pursue a career in graphic design at the professional level. She emphasized her willingness to work hard to achieve this goal. In addition, the best advice she has to give to others wishing to pursue a career in graphic design is “to never give up and to really pay attention to typography. Typography is everything.” 

Moran’s artwork can be seen around campus–including in the Campus Store on a t-shirt–on the College’s social media sites and in the Fall 2020 “Mulberry Tree” which was released on Friday, Sept. 18.

Museums and Galleries Are Finally Being Allowed to Reopen

Written By: Eleanor Pratt

Since March 2020, the majority of us have been stuck inside with little to do. As we enter September, however, more and more attractions are opening up to the public in both Southern Maryland and in Washington D.C.. While many museums and galleries are still closed to the general public due to COVID-19, there are some that have been allowed to open their doors again with new guidelines in place.

The Annmarie Sculpture Garden and Arts Center is open to the public, although new rules have been introduced to keep everyone safe and healthy. The Garden asks guests who feel sick to stay home. Guests with compromised immune systems are advised to seriously reconsider visiting, as some areas of the garden and galleries are impossible to disinfect and could pose a health risk. The sculpture garden and trails are open to the public, as well as the Murray Arts Building, although masks are required inside. The Garden’s current exhibit is “She: An Expression of Womanhood,” which focuses on the theme of women in art. Due to the COVID crisis, the Garden is following a “pay what you can” practice and simply suggests that guests donate a five dollar donation per person if possible.

The Calvert Marine Museum has also resumed its normal hours of operation from 10:00am to 5:00 p.m. daily. However, guests need to select a two-hour time window before visiting to reduce crowd sizes. Between each two-hour session, employees will sanitize all of the indoor and outdoor spaces to make sure everyone stays safe. When visiting the museum, guests can learn more about the history of Solomon’s island, visit the otter exhibit, and see the new exhibit “Waterside Music Series: The Sounds of Solomon’s,” which will be opening to the public soon.

As of Aug. 31, 2020, Washington D.C. is in Phase Two of recovery. Museums, galleries, and even the National Zoo are slowly being allowed to begin opening, however, there will most likely be a capacity for fifty people in exhibit spaces and rules about face masks and social distancing will be in effect.

In a more recent development, The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum are all planning on opening Friday Sept.18 with free, timed-entry passes required for each guest. The Renwick Gallery is also opening on Sept.18, but it does not require timed-entry passes at this time.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has also opened its doors and, like many other museums, has asked interested visitors to reserve tickets in advance because the museum is practicing timed admission. Current exhibits include a collection of more than 5,000 works of women-made art from the sixteenth century to today and “Return to Nature,” which show-cases the different approaches women photographers take to photographing nature.

The National Gallery of Art has opened its West Building and Ground Floor galleries from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. The Gallery does require guests to secure a pass in advance, but admission is always free. The Gallery is currently featuring exhibits on open-air painting in Europe until Nov. 29, 2020 and on Degas at the Opera until Oct. 12, 2020.

For those looking for some American history, George Washington’s home of Mount Vernon is now open again. Visitors can take a journey through our first president’s home and learn about how life was lived during the late 18th century. Non-members should buy tickets online for guaranteed entry because capacity is limited, and everyone is required to wear face coverings.

As time goes on, more museums and attractions will open to the public, however, when absolutely everything will be open again is anyone’s guess. These museums and galleries that are beginning to open up can give us hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and we may be able to return to some kind of normalcy soon.

The Stakes are Higher Than Ever in The Umbrella Academy Season Two

Written By: Eleanor Pratt

Audiences were first introduced to the Umbrella Academy in February of 2019. The strange and whimsical show was based on a series of comics by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba, and quickly became a hit for Netflix. The second season made its debut on the streaming platform on July 31, 2020, and the question on everyone’s minds was how it would compare to its first, highly successful season.

As of Sept. 17, 2020, the second season has a 90% rating from critics and an 89% score from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes. Some critics even went so far as to say that the second season was better than the first, and the majority noted that, although the stakes were higher, the show never lost its emotional core. Critic Brad Newsome of the Sydney Morning Herald praised the season saying that “the series’ wry sense of humor shines through striking a fine balance with the spectacle and the emotional oomph. Great stuff,” and Scott Bryan, a critic from the BBC, joked that “The less you think about the plot, the more you enjoy the ride, and the funnier and more interesting it is too.” 

This season is certainly a strange ride, and the stakes higher than ever before, with the Hargreeves siblings having to find each other after being flung back to various points in time thanks to Number Five’s quick thinking at the end of season one. Eventually, they manage to reunite in Dallas, Texas in 1963 where they must stop yet another apocalypse from happening. Like the last season, Number Five must convince his family to work together to stop the apocalypse, but this proves difficult when none of them take him particularly seriously. The added stress of three hitmen from the evil Commission coming to kill the Hargreeves siblings does not help matters either.

The show introduces several new characters this season, which adds to the feeling of the stakes being even higher than before. We meet Ray, Allison’s civil rights activist husband, who is not sure what to make of his wife’s incredibly strange family. Sissy, a housewife whom Vanya eventually becomes romantically involved with as the season goes on. Sissy’s son Harlan is introduced as well and becomes a very important piece of the apocalypse later on. One of the most important new characters is Lila, who Diego first meets during his stay at the mental asylum in the beginning of the season. Lila seems like any normal girl at first, but her true nature is one of the bigger and more shocking plot twists of the series.

Overall, the second season of the Umbrella Academy was just as fun and odd as the first season. We learn more about each character and come to care about them even more. These characters add heart and humor to a show that often has incredibly dark and depressing storylines. There is a surprise around every corner, and it is almost impossible to be bored when watching. Fans of the show will not be disappointed, and now the only thing to do is to hope for a confirmation of season three from Netflix.

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” Obfuscates Remote Audiences Everywhere

Written By: Kristina Norgard

“I’m Thinking of Ending Things” premiered on Netflix on Sept. 4 2020. The film is rated R and runs for 2 hours and fourteen minutes. It is based on the book with the same title written by Iain Reid. The psychological-thriller stars Jesse Plemons –known for “Black Mirror,” “Breaking Bad”– as Jake and Jessie Buckley –known for “Wild Rose,” “Beast”– as Young Woman, along with Toni Collette –known for “Knives Out,” “Hereditary”–as Mother, and David Thewlis –known for multiple “Harry Potter” films, “Big Mouth”– as Father. The film was both written and directed by Charlie Kaufman –known for “Being John Malkovich” and “Adaptation.” According to IMDB the logline for the film is “full of misgivings, a young woman travels with her new boyfriend to his parents’ secluded farm. Upon arriving, she comes to question everything she thought she knew about him, and herself.” 

However, that description of the film is merely the tip of the iceberg, and some might say that it would not really captivate the true experience of the two-hours they just spent. The film is the opposite of textbook, but the definition of enigmatic, obscure and ambiguous. Kaufman explained in an IndieWire interview what might actually be a better description to really let an audience know what they are getting into, “This movie is dealing with somebody’s experience of absorbing things that they see and how they become part of his psyche.” Additionally, in the same interview, he said that he is open to all interpretations of what the film’s intent, “I’m not really big on explaining what things are,” the writer-director said in a phone interview. “I let people have their experiences, so I don’t really have expectations about what people are going to think. I really do support anybody’s interpretation.” 

Various critics have given their thoughts about “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” on Rotten Tomatoes currently sitting with a score of 83%, most of them are positive, for example, one from Luke Buckmaster praises, “It’s not the explosions of batshit craziness that most enthrall but the events leading up to them, when you can sense the walls of logic are going to collapse in on themselves but you can’t quite see the fold marks,” and from Sonny Bunch, “Your ability to enjoy or appreciate this will be directly related to just how willing you are to roll with intentional disorientation and obfuscation.” However, not all critics felt the same way, Adam Graham stated, “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” is an unsolvable riddle where the only answer is mankind’s hopelessness, and we’ve been down this road before,” and Dennis Harvey felt as though Kaufman’s creativity had been completely spent on his previous works, “…there were already signs that his particular bag of tricks might wear out its welcome, and his features so far as writer-director have confirmed that hunch…”

Midway through the film, the Young Woman observes, “People like to think of themselves as points moving through time. But I think it is probably the opposite. We’re stationary, and time passes through us, blowing like cold wind stealing our heat leaving us chapped and frozen, and I don’t know, dead. I feel like I was that wind tonight.” This point, of many made throughout the film, was the one that elucidated aid in solving the riddles twisted and strategically placed by Kaufman. 

Like most story structures where the plot starts to become concrete and come together by the end, the audience for “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” most likely will just become more confused — especially if they have not read the book. If you read the book (or even a sinful quick online summary of the book’s ending), it will probably help you make much more sense of what just happened before you. However, as Kaufman said, he intends for it to still be up to your own interpretation in the end. Undoubtedly, the film is still very creepy, frustrating and even mentally taxing at times, but somehow very much intriguing and thought-provoking enough to make it fruitful and worth it the watch. Unquestionably, the film is well crafted and truly a treat for the mind. It is highly recommended that if you watch this, watch it with a friend or few as it makes great conversation if you enjoy conversing about all things psychological, meta and semiotics.

How to be Your Best as a Remote Learner

Written By: Eleanor Pratt

 With the majority of colleges offering online courses for the fall semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students have had to adjust extremely quickly to a new kind of learning. While many got a taste of what online learning is like during the spring semester, not many students were prepared for a semester almost entirely online in the fall. Students are having to battle things like Zoom fatigue, a lack of social connection, and much more. Luckily there are some tips and tricks that students can use to make the best out of being a remote learner.

One of the most important things a student can do as a remote learner is to create a schedule and stick to it. Online learning can trick students into feeling more laid back and less concerned about work, which can lead to panic later about missed lectures and assignments. To avoid this, students should make their own personal schedule that includes things like when they will attend class, when they will study, and when they will have time for friends and family. An incredibly helpful app is My Study Life, which helps students keep track of information about each of their classes–such as what time, the professor, etc.–as well as keep track of all of their assignments for each class. The app is extremely easy to use and is free to download on most smartphones.

Zoom fatigue is one of the worst aspects of online learning, but there are ways to fight it. To help focus try to put away any distractions like cell phones or even other homework you need to finish. Trying to multitask during Zoom lectures will only cut down how well you retain the information your professor is trying to give you. Engaging in class can help Zoom fatigue and will help you stay alert and ready to learn. Taking notes during the lecture, answering the professor’s questions, and asking your own questions will help the time pass much quicker and will distract you from staring at a screen for hours a day.

One of the very best things students can do to become better remote learners is to contact their professors about any questions or concerns they might have. Learning online can be an incredibly confusing and frustrating experience, but more often than not a simple email to a professor can clear up a lot of confusion and will make a student’s life much easier. That being said, it is important for students to always be respectful in communication with their professors and to realize that this online learning situation is just as stressful for them as it is for us.

When we can go back to fully in-person learning is anyone’s guess, but for now remote learning is our reality, and we have to make the most of it. By trying to stay organized, staying engaged, and utilizing helpful resources, remote students can be just as successful as if they were on campus.

America in a Pandemic: How is “The Greatest Country in the World” Handling Corona?

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

America as a country prides itself on being one of the most organized and advanced countries in the world. However, just because America considers itself to be these things does not mean that it is 100% accurate. These past six months have shown just how put together our country can be in a medical crisis.

In winter of 2020, the virus did not seem to be that large of a threat to the citizens of America. It was only affecting people in China and there did not seem to be too much danger of spreading. However, when the danger began to show itself, America ignored the signs. Even as more and more countries in the world reported cases, America still chose to remain ignorant of the virus, choosing not to take any steps to prepare for the imminent threat of the virus breaking out in America. When this eventually happened and cases began to sprout around the country, we still did very little to combat it until it became too large of a threat for us to manage.

Part of the fault lies with the administration and government, and part of the fault lies with the people. Back in 2018, President Trump disbanded the Pandemic Response Team, a decision that many Americans believe to be incredibly foolish and wonder if we would be in a better state as a country if the PRT were still in action. Even as the virus continues to rage, many politicians seem to care more about the struggling economy than the fact that people are dying. Businesses and schools were reopened far before a reasonable amount of time had passed to be considered a suitable quarantine. This will no doubt cause a second wave and a surge of new cases that could have easily been avoided had the proper steps been taken early on.

Not all of the blame goes to the government. There are people in this country who believe that this life threatening virus is not as dangerous as it seems. At the very least, they are not taking it as seriously as they should. There are people who refuse to wear masks and refuse to social distance, living under the delusion that just because the virus does not affect them personally, it is not something that should be worried about. Many are also refusing to wear masks on the grounds that they feel it violates their basic human rights. While being forced to wear a mask when outside of your home or when interacting with people outside your family or inner circle is annoying, the alternative is far worse. Even if the people refusing to wear masks are asymptomatic, they are still selfishly putting other people at risk simply because they feel inconvenienced. 
As of now, according to The New York Times, there are over 6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, resulting in nearly 185 thousand deaths. This could have been avoided. While it is not useful or helpful to say what could have been done, perhaps by pointing out what could have been done better, we as a country can take steps to avoid further disaster. But until we start thinking ahead and value practicality and safety over immediate comfort, we cannot continue parading ourselves around as if we are the greatest country in the world, because it is simply not true.

We Need to Stop Ignoring Chronic Illness

Written By: Lily Tender

During my junior year of high school, I would wake up dreading school every morning. There were a lot of reasons why, many of them normal for a sixteen-year-old: I was tired, stressed, and burnt out. But it got to the point where I was spending every day at the nurse because I needed to lay down because I felt sick or so unbelievably tired. For a while, I just thought these were the regular trials and tribulations of adolescence until I realized that most of my peers were not regularly nauseous, dizzy, fatigued and sick. 

I was diagnosed with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, also called POTS, a chronic illness that commonly affects women between age 15-50. Dysautonomia International describes POTS as “a form of orthostatic intolerance that is associated with the presence of excessive tachycardia and many other symptoms upon standing.” Basically, if I go from sitting to standing too quickly I can faint. But it is not just in those situations. POTS shows itself through fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches, decreased concentration, shaking, fainting, heart palpitations, coldness or pain in the extremities, nausea, chest pain and shortness of breath.  During high school though my POTS was mostly under control, unlike 25% of people who have POTS, I was able to go to school and  did not require additional support like a wheelchair. Now in college, I sometimes spend multiple nights a week feeling randomly ill and unbearably dizzy. I will cancel my plans and spend most of the day in bed. I can also have weeks where I feel totally fine and free of exhaustion. While my POTS is mostly under control, many others with chronic illness cannot say the same thing. 

About 45% of Americans suffer from at least one chronic illness. However,like mental illness, chronic illness is not taken seriously. Many people say that physical illnesses are taken much more seriously than mental illnesses, but as someone who experiences both, I do not think that is the case. Both could be considered invisible diseases. To professors and strangers, I am a healthy, outgoing, friendly teen. And while my friends and I love to joke about my terrible sleeping habits and laziness, those things, among other habits, are rooted in chronic illness. Many people ignore these symptoms, but they can be serious signs of illness. 

Chronic illness during coronavirus can be extremely anxiety-provoking. I will randomly feel extremely ill and be convinced that I have COVID-19 before realizing that my POTS is just acting up. My friends with chronic illness joke that if they get COVID-19 they are definitely going to die. And while they joke, people with chronic illnesses are a higher risk population. During times like these, and frankly any time, it is important to recognize the validity behind your friends with chronic illness anxieties. Whether they are anxious about going out—with COVID-19 safe measures— because they are worried about their illness flaring up, or because they are immunocompromised during a pandemic, they are valid and much stronger than you realize. For many with chronic illness, getting out of bed can be one of the most difficult things they can do. Be patient and understanding with your loved ones with invisible disorders and give them the same understanding you would give to someone who broke their arm.

Quarantine Self Care Tips

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

As students begin to return to school, the stresses of work and class return with them. This year also poses a new source of stress and anxiety: quarantine. The state of the world is still very uncertain and the majority of the population find themselves stuck at home with only their families for company, if that. So here are a few tips to keep yourself physically and mentally cared for during this quarantined school year.

First things first, the basics. Just as with every other school year, a student has to remember to take care of their health by eating, sleeping and showering regularly. Just because we are in a pandemic situation does not mean that students have an excuse to neglect their physical health. Some options for food if you are not on campus is to use UberEats or Doordash to help support local restaurants that may be losing business because of the pandemic. Most businesses are very accommodating when it comes to curbside pickup. Or, if you wish, you can try cooking yourself. There are lots of simple and tasty recipes out on the internet for students who may not have a lot of experience with cooking to try. Finding time to cook and eat may be difficult with schoolwork and figuring out how to meet with professors or group project members, but it is always important to set aside at least an hour at the beginning, middle, and end of the day to get your daily nutrition.

 Sleep may also prove difficult, since the stress and uncertainty and from looking at screens all day. For some, turning off electronics for a considerable time before bed just is not possible, since many of us need to work long hours into the night to get our work done or have after school activities that are meeting over Zoom now. Fortunately, the internet also has many ways to help one sleep, such as audiobooks, meditations and relaxing music, all of which can be found on YouTube. There are also ways to improve sleep that do not involve the internet, such as reading a book for a half an hour before bed–for all you English students, this can be one of the books you may need to read for class, since scientists such as the ones on www.chronobiology.com state that studying something before going to sleep causes the brain to remember it more clearly. 

Physical health is not all that matters. Stress can take an immense toll on students if kept unchecked, especially now that we are cooped up either inside our houses or inside our dorms. So keeping our minds active is very important. One thing that is especially important is giving your mind time to relax and unwind. As with sleep, meditation can also help reduce stress, giving the mind ample time to process whatever may be distressing it. 

Hobbies are also important to keeping oneself mentally healthy. With all the time spent at home perhaps now is the time to pick up a new skill like knitting or painting. Even though it may be frustrating at first, part of the process is developing skills over time and seeing how far you have come is part of the reward. 

Perhaps one of the most vital things to one’s mental health is to stay connected. Humans, by nature, are social creatures and spending too much time alone can also take a toll. So be sure to reach out to friends to talk and connect. 

Most importantly, stay safe and stay positive. This quarantine and pandemic can only last so long. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the oncoming train. Stay strong, stay healthy, stay safe.

Fight Off Sleepless Nights

Written By: Maeve Ballantine

As students begin to return to school, the stresses of work and class return with them. This year also poses a new source of stress and anxiety: quarantine. The state of the world is still very uncertain and the majority of the population find themselves stuck at home with only their families for company, if that. So here are a few tips to keep yourself physically and mentally cared for during this quarantined school year.

First things first, the basics. Just as with every other school year, a student has to remember to take care of their health by eating, sleeping and showering regularly. Just because we are in a pandemic situation does not mean that students have an excuse to neglect their physical health. Some options for food if you are not on campus is to use UberEats or Doordash to help support local restaurants that may be losing business because of the pandemic. Most businesses are very accommodating when it comes to curbside pickup. Or, if you wish, you can try cooking yourself. There are lots of simple and tasty recipes out on the internet for students who may not have a lot of experience with cooking to try. Finding time to cook and eat may be difficult with schoolwork and figuring out how to meet with professors or group project members, but it is always important to set aside at least an hour at the beginning, middle, and end of the day to get your daily nutrition.

 Sleep may also prove difficult, since the stress and uncertainty and from looking at screens all day. For some, turning off electronics for a considerable time before bed just is not possible, since many of us need to work long hours into the night to get our work done or have after school activities that are meeting over Zoom now. Fortunately, the internet also has many ways to help one sleep, such as audiobooks, meditations and relaxing music, all of which can be found on YouTube. There are also ways to improve sleep that do not involve the internet, such as reading a book for a half an hour before bed–for all you English students, this can be one of the books you may need to read for class, since scientists such as the ones on www.chronobiology.com state that studying something before going to sleep causes the brain to remember it more clearly. 

Physical health is not all that matters. Stress can take an immense toll on students if kept unchecked, especially now that we are cooped up either inside our houses or inside our dorms. So keeping our minds active is very important. One thing that is especially important is giving your mind time to relax and unwind. As with sleep, meditation can also help reduce stress, giving the mind ample time to process whatever may be distressing it. 

Hobbies are also important to keeping oneself mentally healthy. With all the time spent at home perhaps now is the time to pick up a new skill like knitting or painting. Even though it may be frustrating at first, part of the process is developing skills over time and seeing how far you have come is part of the reward. 

Perhaps one of the most vital things to one’s mental health is to stay connected. Humans, by nature, are social creatures and spending too much time alone can also take a toll. So be sure to reach out to friends to talk and connect. 

Most importantly, stay safe and stay positive. This quarantine and pandemic can only last so long. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not the oncoming train. Stay strong, stay healthy, stay safe.