The Light Behind the Dress

The Light Behind the Dress

By Brynn Weisholtz (VI)

As the sun rises each morning, I wake to see the light peeking through the shades in my bedroom window. In front of that window hangs a gown, my senior prom gown, draped from a hanger with nowhere to go. April 22nd was supposed to be the night of my senior prom, a night that my friends and I have looked forward to since walking through the clocktower doors many years ago. I find myself in a state of limbo, walking from floor to floor and room to room all within the walls of my home. I silently wonder, how can my senior year be slipping away this quickly? Is this really happening? What can I do to turn the shadows of the moment into light for what will ultimately be? 

As events started to get cancelled, part of me could only focus on the negatives of this tumultuous turn of events: no prom, no fashion show, no senior prank day, and possibly no graduation. The suddenly unnecessary prom dress casts a shadow on my outlook for the rest of my senior year and beyond. Towns that once were bustling with open businesses and families walking the streets now look more like ghost towns as masked people stop their cars for curbside pick up from their favorite local restaurants. How is life supposed to return to normal? Will we ever shake hands and talk to strangers on the street again? Will our town centers thrive once more?

As quarantine continued and classes began, I developed a morning routine, returning some normalcy to my day. I wake up, brush my teeth, put in contacts, and then start my commute: walk down the stairs, take a sharp right and then a quick left, and I have arrived at my destination, my classroom. While my classes don’t have the same level of energy virtually as they did when on campus, I know students and teachers alike are giving their all to remain upbeat and engaged. We hold on to what we can in the midst of what appears to be life spiralling out of control, and when the day ends I return to my room to see light coming through my prom dress in my window. 

The shadow of my prom gown is a subtle reminder of the darkness we all feel as a community, born from the uncertainty and loss of the familiar and the known, the expected and longed for, the mundane and extraordinary––but I choose to see the light. I choose to focus on the moments when the sunlight escapes and shines through the shadows, illuminating the silhouette of my dress and reminding me to embrace the here and now, to be thankful for those around me, and, above all, to be hopeful for the joys of life that will emerge in the days and months ahead.  

While the world is at a socially-distanced standstill, the ways the public has been able to shift into this new norm is nothing short of remarkable. In what felt like a blink of an eye, we’ve connected via our computers, reached out to old friends, checked in on our grandparents, and found appreciation for what was. We have embraced the unexpected family time that was once thought as long gone. My brother, another graduating senior, now lives at home for the first time in four years, bringing back game nights, family dinners, movie nights, wiffleball games in the backyard, and walks through our neighborhood.

Though I miss seeing my friends, having passing conversations in the hallways with teachers, and occupying Mr. Ross’ office, we as a community are making the best of everything. I continue to be inspired by those around me and optimistic for our collective futures. In light of this, I took down my prom dress from the window and let all the light shine through. 

An Announcement From the Community Service Club

An Announcement From the Community Service Club

In the wake of this devastating COVID-19 outbreak, a lot of people have felt a sudden urge to do something, anything, to help the community heal. Even though making a thank-you video or doing a color-a-smile seems pointless next to the tragedies we face, these initiatives make a difference. As Oscar Wilde put it, “The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.” The amount of time it takes to post on Instagram is the same amount of time it takes to fill out the form that sends notes of appreciation to the healthcare professionals at Morristown Memorial. Though we cannot provide a cure, there is no end to the ways we can support the people in our community. Pingry’s Community Service Council has started making Morning Meeting announcements that present volunteer opportunities from sharing your appreciation to making sleeping mats out of plastic bags. We urge you to at least look at the slides, if nothing else, to learn about what is available. It is easy to feel helpless in this socially distanced time, but we can assure you that even one thank you video will bring a smile to a doctor who has worked around the clock, or calling your grandparents every so often could truly brighten up their day. When we get out of this quarantine, I think it would be amazing if every student could come back to Pingry knowing they brought a smile to just one person’s face.  

Prorating the Priceless

Prorating the Priceless

By Noah Bergam (V)

The Pingry tuition for the 2019-20 school year was $42,493. Lunch cost $1,378. Those are significant numbers in my life, numbers that, for over six years, have hovered over my head, acting as a reminder of what doesn’t go to my younger siblings each year. 

Those numbers are especially relevant in the era of remote learning. Assuming the very likely scenario that the rest of the school year is remote, it appears students are on track to lose out on both tangible and intangible aspects of an expensive educational experience. This problem, of course, isn’t unique to Pingry. Many universities have issued refunds on room and board and meal plans in the wake of this change. I believe Pingry ought to follow suit and prorate our SAGE Dining meal plans––and while it is unlikely that we could receive a partial refund on the less quantifiable intangibles that we lost this year, it’s a conversation worth opening up … especially if this remote learning situation continues into next fall. 

I remember back in seventh grade when some friends and I tried to break down the cost of Pingry life into an hourly rate. It came down to about $30 an hour, and we joked about how much we were getting robbed by DEAR time––but even back then I think we understood this metric wasn’t the end-all-be-all. The years since have only affirmed that for me: in a normal Pingry hour, you’re getting a lot more than what’s on the schedule. In fact, I would argue that most of Pingry’s value comes down to the stuff you don’t expect: the triumphs and the failures, the conversations, the relationships, the journey as a whole. We cannot and should not try to assign dollar values to those kinds of experiences. 

Such is the paradox of the educational product: for students, the beneficiaries, Pingry is a priceless experience, but for our parents, the customers, it is a hefty investment with a fairly clear goal: “success” in a high-quality educational environment. In my experience, the student and parent perspectives mix like oil and water––where the external parental perspective sees a clear-cut result, the internal student perspective sees the fruits of a complicated learning process.

The issue we now face critically disrupts the learning process and the experience as a whole, which makes it much easier for students and parents alike to take a critical stance on Pingry as a product. Of course, we are fighting it. We are trying our best to believe in the intangibly valuable educational community, and to an extent, we’re succeeding … but at the end of the day, Google Hangouts can’t replace the little things that make real school real: the fast-paced conversation of class, the small talk with teachers, the time with friends, the work-home separation. A screen can’t project all those priceless dimensions of the Pingry experience. 

But can we prorate the priceless? Can we somehow reimburse students for the intangible education that they lost, while still keeping faculty paychecks running? The answer, especially in the wake of this unforeseen disruption, is probably no. Neither universities nor private high schools have even entertained the concept, citing the argument that, despite the drop in quality, they are still doing their best to provide educational resources remotely. That being said, if school is unable to resume in the fall, that changes the game, since tuition adjustment would be an act of foresight on behalf of a “new” product rather than an after-the-fact reaction in the midst of chaotic change. 

In any case, there are two requests we as students can and should make, in the event that remote learning extends to the rest of this year and potentially beyond.  

  1. For the Board of Trustees: please prorate our Sage Dining meal plans. If we are not receiving a service that our parents paid for, we deserve reimbursement. In addition, please consider the prospect of “prorating the priceless,” for both this semester and, if need be, next semester––even if other institutions have dismissed this idea, it is certainly worth deducing and communicating its viability. 
  2. For Mr. Levinson: please address both parents and the student body on this topic. Tuition matters, and in times like this, when the product of Pingry is being tested in unforeseen ways, it ought not to be taboo.

The prospect of refunding some portion of school costs is a matter of goodwill and care for the community. It is the kind of action that recognizes the state of our education not only as a journey in life but as a financial investment that ought to be respected. 

When the Peace Candle Blows Out: A Continuation to On Peace Candles and Being Ignored

When the Peace Candle Blows Out: A Continuation to On Peace Candles and Being Ignored

By Monica Chan (V)

“You shouldn’t go outside without pepper spray,” my dad tells me over lunch.

“Nothing is going to happen,” I say. 

“Just be careful.” 


I sigh, grab the small canister of Halt! that sits on my desk, and exit the house for my quarantine walk. I feel safe, because I know my new neighbors across the street are Asian-American, and so is the other house five doors down. There is a new house being built on the next street over and the new family stood outside their house admiring the construction, and I smile at them. However, the owners of that new house are not as kind, and throw me one of the nastiest looks I think I have ever seen.

I feel the can shift around in my jacket pocket. 

I then see a mother walking with her children and a dog, and then one of the other neighbors steps out of her house with her dog, joins the mother and her children, and gives them each a hug. I laugh internally, thinking that they are breaking social distancing rules, but just as they noticed me they moved to the other side of the street. I tried not to notice the occasional glance back from the two adults. 

I don’t take that route anymore when I walk by myself. An overreaction? Maybe. I don’t think they’re going to hurt me. I just don’t want to have to go through that again. The shame, the feeling that I need to somehow cover my face. These thoughts have become my new norm. 

I have always believed in activism and utilizing our freedom of speech to speak up about topics which are important. While I have been lucky enough to be able to avoid the violent discrimination resulting from the coronavirus toward Asian-Americans, I’ve been pretty vocal about some of the hate crimes that have happened to members of my community, as well as the wider Asian community worldwide. There was the stabbing of a Burmese family in a Sam’s Club; a gun drawn at a Korean university student who had confronted someone for posting coronavirus pamphlets on his dorm room door; man killed as a result of suspected foul play from his neighbor; people beat up in Philadelphia and New York City for not wearing a mask; and the ones who got beat up for wearing one. Unfortunately, these instances only name a few examples. 

Comments online about these hate crimes are dominated by people saying things like, “Wow, now you know how all the other minorities feel,” or my personal favorite, “You’re mad now that you got your honorary white person card revoked huh?” 

This comment struck me. I think I always subconsciously felt it, but I feel like Asian-Americans aren’t always treated as people of color (POC) in this country. Rather, I view that we are treated as people of color when it is advantageous for a certain view, and viewed as beneficiaries of white privilege at other times. It’s why the system of affirmative action in universities goes against us, but also the same reason we are encouraged to “stand together as minorities” when other groups have their own activist movements. It’s also why politicians use us as a “model minority” for other minorities when those politicians cannot provide adequate support for broken systems. 

A large part of this sometimes-POC sometimes-white-privilege dynamic stems from a certain Asian-American community wide unwillingness to “make trouble.” For instance, one of my Asian-American friends encountered a situation where a racist comment was made, and when I encouraged her to speak up, she said her parents didn’t want her to make trouble. This problem with being afraid of conflict is something I’ve heard countless times. It’s why a lot of the hate crimes that are happening now aren’t being reported on by major news media networks like CNN, MSNBC, or FOX. I feel like most of the country mistakes Asian-Americans’ unwillingness to bring about conflict with us not encountering any. 

As a leader of the Asian Student Union, this time has brought many questions to me from other members of the community. “What should we do?” and “How do we stay safe?” are all things that younger students, and friends outside Pingry have asked me. I don’t have the answers, and part of me feels like I should as someone who is vocal about Asian-American topics. These aren’t questions I’ve had to ask myself until now. I started the ASU with my friends to enact dialogue and some shift in thought, even if it was just among members of our small Pingry community. I wanted to encourage my peers to recognize and stand up for discrimination, but most importantly to find the courage to stand up for themselves regardless of their identifiers. I never could have expected that the greatest test of my activism would come now. Suddenly, as if overnight, the sphere of these discussions have left the little safe haven that I have helped create in Room 310 at a small private school in Basking Ridge. They feel much more real now, which is scary at the same time as it is empowering. That call to action we’ve been waiting for, that spark that we’ve been hoping will ignite, finally came. It’s time for us to enact the change we wanted to see in our own communities. 

I’ve faced a lot of criticism from those around me, those who think I’m being too vocal about the situation at hand, those who think my words aren’t constructive action against the crimes being committed. I’ve even been told that the racism that we are seeing as a result of the coronavirus is justified due to the horrible actions the Chinese government is taking against Africans in China. However, groups pointing fingers at each other is the thing that is least constructive. Racism is racism, no matter which group is committing it, and it should be condemned, not based on the political climate in which it takes place, but for the morals that we as a society have been trying to progress. 

Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Quarantine

Mitigating the Spread of COVID-19 in Quarantine

By Julian Lee (V)

With statewide stay-at-home orders currently issued in at least 42 states, we should take into consideration the factors that could compromise the effectiveness of this quarantine. Inspired by the simulations created by the Washington Post and the YouTube channel 3Blue1Brown, I wanted to further investigate how human behavior––specifically, visiting friends––can impact the spread of COVID-19 under a quarantine environment.


I created a simulated environment of 100 households, where only interactions between family members and one-on-one visits with friends can cause infections. The user can change various parameters, such as the average days between visiting friends, and observe how changing these variables affect the spread of the virus. The simulation can be found here.


The simulation suggests that in the world of social distancing, the frequency of visiting friends has a greater impact on the spread of the virus than the size of a person’s social network (simulation results shown at the end of the article). Someone who visits the same friend every other day spreads the virus faster than someone who visits one friend every four days in a ten-person social network. Based on the simulation, reducing the number of friend visits during quarantine by a factor of two could have an effect comparable to halving the infection rate of the virus.


Below are my findings from the simulation (100 simulations were run for each setting):

  1. Doubling the average time between friend visits from 2 days to 4 days caused the virus’ average spread to decrease from 51% to 29% of the population.
  2. Halving the infection rate for both friend visits (from 20% to 10%) and family members (from 40% to 20%) resulted in a similar reduction in virus’ spread from 51% to 27% of the population.
  3. Decreasing the number of friends (i.e. the social network) from 10 to 1 caused the virus’ average spread to decrease from 54% to 40% of the population.


While someone might think it is completely benign to visit just “one” friend every other day, such behavior by an entire population can still result in an exponential growth of the virus. For example, if someone infects the one friend they are visiting during quarantine, that friend would then infect their entire family, and these family members would infect their own friends.


This simulation helps to quantitatively demonstrate an obvious yet powerful fact about social distancing: to ensure that our quarantine proves effective, it is essential that we work towards minimizing the frequency of visiting others.


So, Why does Hitting the Apex Matter?

So, Why does Hitting the Apex Matter?

By Meghan Durkin (V)

It’s been over two months since the United States confirmed its first coronavirus case in late January. Since then the landscape has changed drastically, as the virus has forced all non-essential businesses to shut down, kept most states under lockdown, and left most of the world at a standstill. This week, with cases in numerous states across America predicted to hit their peak, the healthcare system, its workers, and all others without the ability to stay home prepare for the hardest battle in the ongoing war against COVID-19.  

During a news conference on April 4, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called the apex “the battle of the mountain top,” and affirmed that New York and other highly-affected states, including New Jersey, “are not yet ready for the highpoint.” Our lack of preparation for such a high number of cases remains the greatest challenge of this apex. How can a healthcare system brace for a pandemic it never expected? How do hospitals continue to treat patients as their resources dwindle? As of April 11, the United States became the country with the greatest number of confirmed deaths, with over 1,000 being from New Jersey and about 7,000 being from New York. If the pressure on our healthcare system becomes too immense, those numbers will rise even faster.

Even when cases begin to decline, avoiding another outbreak is critical to curbing even greater disasters and preventing future quarantines. Many countries who seemed to have handed coronavirus an early and swift defeat faced a resurgence of cases in late March. For example, in Singapore, where cases had dropped by late February into March, a second wave of cases has forced the country to close all non-essential businesses and schools. The emergence of new cases in Singapore serves as an important warning to the United States: allowing people to return to school, work, or “normal” life too early may cause another outbreak of the virus. If the country doesn’t proceed with caution, there could be a second peak on its way.   

Here’s the brighter side: a peak must be followed by a decline. At this point, a decline in cases can’t come soon enough. The Coronavirus is not only a medical problem, but also an economic disaster unlike any other. What had been a booming economy in the United States is now facing a major downturn. With many businesses forced to shut down, specifically those in the hospitality industry, companies have little choice but to lay off or furlough large parts of their workforce. In about three weeks, over 16 million Americans lost their jobs and the number continues to rise. For employees and employers across the country, the sooner the virus is controlled, the faster they can get back to work. 

Ultimately, the onset of a peak in cases poses both problems and promise. The United States is far from being out of the woods, as evidenced by continued problems in countries, like Singapore, who are facing a second wave. Thus, the balance between caution and normalcy is becoming increasingly important to reduce deaths and keep the healthcare system afloat. Though, with the worst (hopefully) almost behind us, the U.S. and its people can slowly start to see the light at the end of the tunnel. If not released from possibly many more months under stay-at-home orders, then at least hope and reassurance that the worst is on its way out.

Why is Coronavirus So Hard To Cure, and What Are We Doing To Cure It?

By Max Ruffer (Grade 6)

We hear a lot about the big picture epidemiological story of COVID-19: the way it spreads on an interpersonal or interregional basis. But what about on the cellular scale? As numerous institutions race to find a cure to COVID-19, they must consider how the virus behaves in our bodies––we should consider that too. So let’s take a step back and look at the virus that’s on a chaotic world tour: SARS-CoV-2. 


SARS-CoV-2 first attacks the upper and lower respiratory tract. Early stages of the virus show reduced white blood cells and lymphatic cells, considering these cells play a crucial role in the immune system. The fact that we’re working with a virus makes it even harder to cure. Unlike bacteria, viruses generally take over human cells and force them to make copies of the virus. The virus does this by landing on a human cell and injecting its genetic material into the cell. Antibiotics are not an option because they function by stopping bacterial reproductive systems––viruses rely on the host to reproduce (which is why they are often not considered living creatures). According to microbiologist Diane Griffin, “Bacteria are very different from us, so there’s a lot of different targets for drugs. Viruses replicate in cells, so they use a lot of the same mechanisms that our cells do, so it’s been harder to find drugs that target the virus but don’t damage the cell as well.” 


The rapid rate at which SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses mutate also adds to the complexity of finding a long-term solution. These mutations “trick” the lymph nodes’ memory cells, which can remember and immediately launch an attack on a recurring virus if it reenters the body. However, once the virus mutates, the cells can no longer recognize the strain and must relearn its signature.

Thus, while an antiviral treatment might be effective one year, it may fail the next. For example, the reason you need to get a different flu shot every year is because the flu mutates every year. 


Even with these disadvantages, humans are fighting back. Currently, 306 studies are being conducted into how SARS-CoV-2 behaves, but only nine have been completed. As of now, we have discovered only two drugs that may impact the disease: hydroxychloroquine and danoprevir combined with ritonavir. To accelerate the progress of finding a vaccine, many researchers have used their understanding of SARS, a virus similar to COVID-19, as a starting point. However, studies on medicine take about 11 months to complete in the United States and even with these existing treatments, COVID-19 remains deadly, killing many patients within 15 days. 


The high infectivity of COVID-19 presents one of the most difficult challenges. Hospitals are running out of safety equipment, beds, and respiratory equipment due to the overwhelming number of patients with COVID-19. The lack of safety equipment is an issue for people who are at the front lines of this pandemic. When healthcare workers are infected, the virus becomes much more dangerous. Simply being near someone infected can give you the virus. As a result, the CDC now recommends wearing cloth face masks when out in public to slow the disease’s spread and thereby relieve the stress on the healthcare system. 


Despite these difficulties, COVID-19 can be eradicated. With the help of “social distancing,” as well as the selfless work of researchers and healthcare professionals, humanity will overcome this crisis. As a community, we can do our part by staying inside and helping those who need it. Although COVID-19 may seem an insurmountable obstacle, we are slowly clearing it.  


Updated AP Exams

By Brian Li (IV)

With the closure of schools in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, students are unable to receive the same level of education as before. For Pingry students the changes have been especially relevant in the context of fast-paced Advanced Placement (AP) courses. AP courses are considered rigorous and demanding, and they usually finish with a three-hour year-end exam covering all of the topics studied during the course. However, as a result of school closures, many AP courses will not be able to cover all of the necessary curriculum, leaving students at a disadvantage for the exams. 


To combat this issue, The College Board, the parent organization of AP courses, has altered the exams in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In place of the standard three-hour in-school exam, The College Board has announced that exams will be 45 minutes long, administered online, and only include “topics and skills most AP students and teachers have already covered in class by early March.” They will be open-book, with AP World Language exams consisting only of speaking questions and most others consisting only of free-response questions. The exams will be administered from May 11 through May 22, the third and fourth weeks of the month, and makeup exams will be offered in early June. 


In these extraordinary circumstances, such significant changes to the AP exams may seem very sudden. Students with questions can contact their teachers or counselors, or visit the AP College Board COVID-19 website linked here

Middle School To Start New Schedule

By Alex Wong (I)

On March 31, 2020, the Middle School announced a brand new schedule. Effective April 6, it is very similar to the regular school schedule, where classes would be held according to letter days instead of according to weekdays. The changes it does make, however, have elicited a variety of responses from the Middle School student body. 

Middle School students discussed the new schedule during the April 1 remote Advisory session. During the week of March 23, Middle School students only attended one core class per day, as well as advisory on Mondays and Wednesdays. The new schedule is very similar to the regular school schedule: seven different blocks (in contrast to the five core classes in the former remote learning schedule), with four classes per day, as well as a flex (featuring student interest clubs) and Independent Work/Athletics Block at the end of the day. Some students expressed concern over the increase of classes in an unfamiliar environment. Laura Young (I) remarked, “I think that the former schedule had too few classes per day, however, the new schedule may be a bit much.” On the other hand, some students liked the increase of classes. Claire Sartorius (I) mentioned, “I think the new schedule is better because it feels like a regular school day.” Max Ruffer (6) mentioned, “I think that the new schedule will help with homework management. With the new schedule I only get the day’s homework. Getting a week of homework has messed up my eating schedule. When I do my homework, I try to get all the work done at one time. If I have a lot of homework then sometimes I end up doing things I normally would not do such as skipping lunch. With the new asynchronous classes however, it will help the students to improve skills such as writing before a major test.”

Middle School teachers hope that the new schedule will bring back a sense of familiarity to the whole Middle School. When asked about the new schedule, Middle School Dean of Student Life Mr. Michael Coakley said, “The hope with this new schedule, ‘Remote Learning 2.0’ as we’re calling it, is that we’ll be able to give students increased structure and community facetime in these unusual times. Connection with other people matters right now; it reminds us that our community is bound less by a building and more by the values and willingness to support one another that we all share.” Science teacher Ms. Debra Tambor is also optimistic about the new schedule, mentioning, “The modified remote learning schedule will allow for increased contact for students and faculty, the advancement of learning, and more structure to the student’s work week.”

In summary, the Middle School schedule has brought a lot of uncertainty to the table, for teachers and students alike. However, there is one thing everyone can agree on in the Middle School: we will get through this, and we will make it work.

COVID-19’s Origins

COVID-19’s Origins

By Alex Wong (I) The effects of COVID-19 are a lot clearer than the causes. It has closed schools and businesses worldwide, infected over a million people, and is seriously challenging the capacity of our healthcare systems, both here in America and abroad. But how did this happen? Almost everyone can agree the virus originated in Wuhan, Hubei, China … but how? There are two major theories. 


The first is that it came about naturally and, according to Dr. David Lung,“was a product of […] excessive hunting and ingesting wild animals, inhumane treatment of animals, and disrespecting lives.” Animals such as bats, dogs, monkeys, and pangolins are often consumed as food, a very common practice in Mainland China. After some genome sequencing, it was determined that the Wuhan coronavirus and the bat coronavirus RaTG13 were 96% similar in terms of genome sequencing. According to an op-ed written by highly acclaimed Hong Kong epidemiologist Yuen Kwok Yung, who in 2003 helped Hong Kong fight the SARS virus, “This particular virus strand was obtained and isolated from Yunnan bats (Rhinolophus sinicus), and bats are believed to be the natural host of this Wuhan Coronavirus.” However there would need to be an intermediate host to get from bats to humans. The Wuhan coronavirus was 90% similar to a strand of pangolin coronavirus in genome sequencing, making the pangolin a likely (but not confirmed) intermediate source. However, because the Chinese government shut down the wet market where the virus was said to have originated, scientists and epidemiologists have been unable to obtain samples from the wild animals in the market, meaning no one yet has been able to confirm which animal it came from, or whether it did come from the market. 


The second theory is that the Wuhan Coronavirus was created in the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) and accidentally set loose via an infected bat. The WIV has a history of researching coronaviruses, and in 2015 the Institute even made a bat coronavirus that could infect human cells. This artificial virus was very similar to SARS (a different coronavirus with symptoms similar to COVID-19). Additionally, the history of viruses escaping Chinese labs (such as the infamous 2004 Beijing SARS outbreak caused by the SARS virus escaping a government lab not once, but twice) have added suspicion. To be clear, the scientists were trying to figure out a cure to SARS, and did not have malicious intentions. However, according to leading microbiologists, the complexity of COVID-19 points strongly to origins in nature. Additionally, the WIV has released no research on coronaviruses since 2015. Ultimately, the theory that COVID-19 was made in a lab is based mostly on mistrust of the Chinese government, a mistrust most prevalent in the conservative discourse of the Western world. 


Whether this was a natural virus or a man-made virus, one thing is evident: the Chinese Communist government could have taken quicker action to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Chinese doctors such as Li Wenliang, who later succumbed to the virus and tragically died, were actually given a notice by Wuhan police to stop spreading “misinformation” about a new “SARS-like epidemic” in December. As the spread continued, the Chinese government locked down Wuhan, but by then it was too late. A Chinese New Year gathering of more than 40,000 people has been pinpointed as one of the events that helped increase the spread within Wuhan. Furthermore, the Chinese government refused to take further steps to contain the virus until January 23, a full month-and-a-half since the discovery of the virus, this was not until nearly 5 million people had fled Wuhan before the lockdown. However, as the virus spread to other parts of the world, many other governments were caught off guard, and in some cases were slower to act on quarantining and testing than China.


The Chinese government has been accused of not releasing the full number of cases in Mainland China. Instead of classifying a death as “coronavirus death” they would classify it as “pneumonia-related death.” On top of that, Chinese health officials refused to give information about Patient Zero from Wuhan, and did not allow international research teams to gain access to Wuhan to try and find the origin of the coronavirus. 


The Asian community across America has also been impacted by the coronavirus. Co-head of Pingry’s Asian Student Union Monica Chan (V) remarked, “The Asian community around the world has faced devastating repercussions of the virus, being targets of xenophobia and racism. There has been a surge in hate crimes against people of Asian descent worldwide, including vandalism, armed assault, and even mass shooting threats. It is important for the Asian community to remain careful at this time and stay safe!” When asked about what the Asian Student Union did to help fight back against the virus, Monica Chan (V) and Guan Liang (V) mentioned, “ We arranged a Dress Down Day before spring break ended to raise money for NGOs in China. We ended up raising $405 between the Middle and High school! We have also been staying home, social distancing like most people in our community. The Chinese parents within the Pingry community have organized a task force that collects and donates medical face masks to local hospitals with supply shortages. These initiatives are crucial for combatting against coronavirus as they unite the strengths of different ethnic communities.”


As the old adage goes, “History will always repeat itself.” Ineffective measures and misinformation by the Chinese government were on display back during the 2002-2004 SARS outbreak, and similar mistakes resurfaced in the early handling of COVID-19. However, we need to be careful in how we analyze the causes of this virus––the Chinese government certainly deserves blame, but we ought not to convert such frustration into racially targeted sentiment.