A Social Barrier – By Cam Mulholland (12)

“I feel like a prisoner in my own home, unable to socialize and interact,” Jon Zylstra, a retired police officer and diabetic said about living through the current pandemic. Kaiser Family Foundation stated that in Michigan, 41.2% of adults are at high risk or serious illness if they were to be infected with COVID-19. Many people have had enough of having to be cautious about going out in public, especially those who are more vulnerable. With limits on going in public, traveling, education, and working, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone’s lives. 

“I can no longer have that personal connection with my students,” Office Administrator at VanGuard Laurie Piechocki said, in reference to the rules in place due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. As everyone knows, life has changed dramatically since the beginning of the lockdown set in place due to the outbreak of COVID-19. With school starting back up, and the fall hitting, many people are trying their hardest to make life feel normal again. This is hard due to all of the rules and safety regulations put into place to protect one’s health. Bridge MI found that only 7 of the 20 school districts in Kent County are opting to educate students online only. 

Whether online or in person, communication has become more difficult in schools. Taylor Veenstra, a Student Teacher from Grand Valley, says “It’s really unfortunate that neither myself or my students can have that social interaction that school is really all about.” Due to social distancing rules many schools are unable to hold those hands on activities, field trips, and many more inclusive events that help students socialize. WMU student Logan Mulholland agrees, saying “It is hard to communicate with my professors when I am confused, and it’s even harder to talk to classmates and make new connections.” 

Another social barrier made is the divide on wearing masks. Many people find that wearing a mask gives a false sense of security, though it has been proven to prevent the risk of infection by 65% according to Dean Blumeberg of UC Davis Children’s Hospital. Social interaction has been known to improve both mental and physical health, and is needed especially during an unsure time like the ongoing pandemic. 

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