I am a junior at Waimea High School. I am writing to you today to explain how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our community, and to express the frustration of many individuals, like business owners, your regular, everyday community, and even high school students and athletes.
I would like to start off by saying that this year has been difficult, not just for students and athletes but for the island of Kaua‘i and, as a matter of fact, the entire state. Being able to provide for a family is no easy task, and having the pandemic bring your source of income to a halt or at the least slow down just makes everything seem impossible, especially for local business owners.
Many of us know that tourism plays a big part in Hawai‘i’s economy. Therefore, the pandemic caused Hawai‘i’s economy to take a huge hit. As a result of huge economic losses and the possibility of more to come, the governor has allowed tourism back into the state.
Not only is he letting people from other states come to Hawai‘i, but if they test negative within 72 hours of their arrival it is not mandatory for them to quarantine. This may be great news for business owners, but it is a whole different feeling for local people with elderly and young children.
Keep in mind we barely have enough resources to support our own community, let alone thousands of people coming from out of state and not taking extra precautions to quarantine.
Not only is it a risk for so many locals, but if a tourist gets sick, they still are required to get treatment and use our resources. That means that they leave us with one less ventilator or one less hospital bed. Not to mention these people after they get treated get to go back to their state perfectly fine while Hawai‘i will still be struggling.
I am by no means trying to spread negativity. I am just trying to express my opinion, as well as the opinion of some others.
Now, though it is not one of the main priorities, I would like to express my thoughts as a high-school student-athlete as well as other students’ feelings about virtual learning and high-school sports.
For starters, online schooling has been difficult for all of us. At some point from the beginning of the school year ‘till now we have all run into some difficulties. For some, it is easier online, and they learn better virtually. For others, online school might as well be a mission to Mars. I think a problem that many of us have run into was being able to adjust to the new way of learning and the new so-called “normal.”
Personally, I am a visual learner, and I need to be physically present in order to learn some things or ask questions. This is also the case for most students that I have encountered.
For many students, school was not just a place of learning. It was also a place of friendships and bonds between students and staff. For seniors, this would have been their final moments, their last year in high school to create irreplaceable memories before they dive into the real world.
Many might not experience that because of this pandemic. When the number of cases for Kaua‘i went down, we all had a little glimmer of hope that this was going to be the time for us to go back to school and back to the way things were. That was not the case.
For many student-athletes, sports have impacted their lives in a variety of ways. Some students have gone on to play at a higher level because of their drive, passion and love for their sport.
A number of students play because they want to stay active, while others play to build new bonds and create new friendships. Due to this pandemic, we are not allowed to do the things we love. For many, sports were an escape from the real world.
For others, it has served as a source of motivation and reason to focus.
One student (who preferred to remain anonymous) said “I rely on sports for my future.” Another student (also preferred to remain anonymous) said “Sports is my motivation to get up in the morning to go to school and get good grades. If it wasn’t for sports, I don’t think some athletes would go to school at all.”
For all students and student-athletes, school was not just a place of learning — it was a place of friendship, memories and a start to a brighter future. This all adds up to the point that the COVID- 9 pandemic has really taken a toll on our community, state, country and the entire world. I for one can’t wait to get back into the groove of things and for school and sports to resume.
Until then, we wait patiently.
Reign Palama is a resident of Lawa‘i.