As the Harvard-Westlake community shelters in place, eagerly awaiting the next update from President Rick Commons and standing by as local governments take increasingly drastic measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus, the end of the school year draws nearer with each passing day. From desk chairs in our homes we log onto our online classes to see the groggy faces of our teachers and peers who we laughed with, hugged, saw, just more than a week ago. The creeping sense that many of us may never again interact with our classmates altogether on campus grows realer by the second.
Our fears are certainly fueled by the media’s nonstop coverage of the pandemic. We unfurl our morning papers to read bold headlines proclaiming the devastating effects of COVID-19, we turn on our televisions to watch the footage of doctors and nurses struggling to keep up with the fight, we refresh our news feeds to check the most recent tallies of confirmed cases and the latest death tolls. Day after day and hour after hour, the cycle continues on. Because our usual daily activities have paused indefinitely and because we are inundated with information, it is easy to get caught up in the seemingly endless stream of bad news. But now, sifting through the content we have read and grounding ourselves in simple facts are more important than ever.
We see it as our duty to the community to convey accurate and timely updates regarding the school’s response to the coronavirus. Though we have vacated the newsrooms of Weiler Hall, we are working harder than ever to provide a forum that everyone can visit for clear information about how the pandemic will affect their high school experience. We at The Chronicle recognize that times like these are when newspapers have increased power—power to either provide clarity or to incite fear.
Furthermore, we recognize that this is when our tenacity must be strongest, and when commitment to our readership will be tested. Already, we have been updating our website with the latest news on measures the school has taken, as well as precautions from organizations and local and state governments that will affect students. In the coming weeks, our journalists will be posting stories exploring all aspects of the crisis, bringing forth an array of perspectives from different parts of the school community. And, we are staying in close contact with administration to find out accurate information on how, in the wake of the pandemic, the school plans to handle the rest of the school year.
We also hope to both provide a way for our readership to stay connected and promote a sense of community. By frequently conducting interviews—albeit remotely—and publishing in-depth stories online, we will continue to provide a forum for individuals to express their personal thoughts and feelings, as well as gain insight into and find comfort in others’. Accordingly, we welcome guest editorials and letters to the editors as ways of further projecting the voices of our readership and understanding how best we can continue to serve. Through our own staff’s content, we aim to highlight the challenges and successes our community will experience as we navigate the uncertainty together. Upcoming articles, for example, will detail teachers’ adjustments to online lessons and what the school’s closure has meant to athletes and artists on campus. In other stories, our journalists will share their opinions regarding the “new normal” of virtual interactions and about the sacrifices necessary from all of us to help combat the pandemic. And, because we could all currently benefit from lighthearted distractions, watch for staff picks for top books and movies, spotlights on students who have made the most of their quarantine time, and coronavirus satire pieces.
In times of national crises, we are usually able to rely on a sense of unity, a rally around one central ideal or goal. But this time is a bit different—there are no group demonstrations of solidarity or heartwarming charitable efforts. The coronavirus has divided and conquered, sinking its teeth into almost everything we do, making many of us feel more isolated than ever before. We hope that in this time, our staff’s efforts will offer a source of clarity and a forum for everyone in the Harvard-Westlake community to come together and share their voice. Thank you again for reading The Chronicle and for your continued support. We hope everyone stays safe and healthy during this time, a period unlike any of us has seen before.
Tammer Bagdasarian and Lindsay Wu