An unusually alert spring break

Fellow Falcons share their experience of traveling during coronavirus (COVID-19) times

As+flights+were+cancelling%2C+Westerhof+noticed+a+large+drop+in+the+amount+of+people+traveling+through+the+airports.+%E2%80%9CThe+airports+were+pretty+busy+when+we+were+on+our+way+there%2C+but+on+the+way+home+people+were+more+scarce+and+everything+was+closed.%E2%80%9D

Sydney Westerhof

As flights were cancelling, Westerhof noticed a large drop in the amount of people traveling through the airports. “The airports were pretty busy when we were on our way there, but on the way home people were more scarce and everything was closed.”

By Sarah Bernick, Davenport West High School

“Ahhhh-Chew!” A sneeze that would usually be recovered by a smile and a “bless you” has now turned into an uncertain look and the social distancing of another person. 

COVID-19 is the most serious health threat that has faced the country in over 100 years, according to Dr. Robert R. Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, some Falcon families chose to get in their last bit of freedom before heading into quarantine.Falcon families handled their spring break vacations cautiously, while still enjoying themselves.

“For spring break I went to Orange Beach, Alabama, and my family was fine with leaving because there were zero cases at the location we were going at the time that we left,” senior Franki Manuel said. 

As a senior, Manuel did not want the virus ruin her last high school spring break. She was careful when looking over her vacationed area,seeing that there were no cases at the time. Even though partial distancing had taken place in the area, she was not too concerned about it.

“The coronavirus did prevent us from going to a few restaurants, but nothing major until our last night and our drive home,” Manuel said.

Restaurants in Alabama began closing over the break, much like in many other places.

“For spring break my family and I went to Kaanapali, Maui in Hawaii,” sophomore Sophia Diekema said.“Unfortunately, even at our resort a lot of the restaurants became takeout only, so our eating options were slimmer, and certain parts of our resort like the gym were closed for health reasons.” 

Diekema traveled by plane and the sanitation on the flight was largely increased. According to Chicago Sun Times, more than 230,000 passengers pass through the O’Hare airport everyday. Though this number is expected to largely decrease due to the virus, it was still critical for Diekema to travel safely. 

“We were very careful about washing our hands as often as possible and we carried hand sanitizer with us wherever we went. The airports were a lot less busy than normal and most people were wearing masks and gloves, plus most airport restaurants were closed as well,” Diekema said.

Traveling outside of the country causes even greater concern. Sophomore Claire Westerhof and her family had fears of borders closing during their trip.

“We vacationed to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean and at first we were a little skeptical if we should even leave the country or not in case it came to a point where the U.S. borders were closing,” Westerhof  said. “However, this was really before quarantine because now it is so much more serious.” 

Westerhof was more concerned with the travel itself rather than the actual destination. Therefore she did what she could to make the environment around her as clean as possible while traveling.

“The virus affected our vacation in ways like deeply cleaning things from our seats on the plane to our rental car, but the island we were on still had no confirmed cases,” Westerhof said.

For some families vacationing was on the edge. To go or to not go was a puzzling question. Sarah Stineman, a West parent, came across this question multiple times before deciding to take her family on vacation. 

“We planned to go to Destin, Florida for spring break. When we first heard about the virus we weren’t too concerned. However, as our spring break got closer and the virus was spreading, we did consider not going,” Stineman said. “We ended up going, but we used a lot of precautions.”

A key playing factor for Stineman was constantly tuning into the news and listening for updates even during vacation.

“Our biggest concern was one of us getting the virus and having to try to get home. Things were closing and we were getting creeped out,” Stineman said.,”The news was getting worse and then they closed the schools, so we left our trip 4 days early. 

With the virus continuing to spread, Stineman believes that staying at home is the best possible option in order to restore everything as quickly as possible.

“I personally think that school will be delayed further as of right now. We don’t have good control and people aren’t doing their best for social distancing,” Stineman said. “This won’t really affect what my family is doing right now because we will still stay quarantined since we do have a vulnerable health person in our house.” 

In order to stay as healthy and safe as possible, the World Health Organization recommends practicing these five in order to help stop the coronavirus:

  1. HANDS- wash them often
  2. ELBOW- cough into it
  3. FACE- don’t touch it
  4. SPACE- keep safe distance
  5. HOME- stay safe if you can

“I feel like most people are taking the precautions that are needed like staying home, but I also think the high school age group could do better with distancing themselves and staying home at times like this,” Manuel said.

This story was originally published on WHS Today on March 30, 2020.