Last year, much of a Beaconite’s journalistic efforts were concentrated on a few in-depth articles and on coverage of the Commission of Inquiry. Though he is proud of the resulting stories and appreciated the challenges they posed, he was reminded of how much he loves the fluffier side of journalism after reporting on community events over the holidays. Whereas with more complicated stories the Beaconite might labour over making sure the facts are correct or that all points of view are expressed fairly, writing about plays or parties allows him to focus on his writing style, and he enjoys being able to tinker with his prose. And there is often some unexpected fun when a Beaconite is tasked with reporting on an event he would have attended anyway. After snapping all the pictures he needed at a New Year’s Eve party, for instance, he handed the camera off to his friends, and chuckled as they all posed for the flash.
The juxtaposition of two stories this week painted a picture that bothered a Beaconite: schools beginning the term online, and thousands of partiers at Foxy’s Old Year’s Night. To be clear, the Beaconite doesn’t think bars shouldn’t be open or events shouldn’t happen, but if they do, there is no reason students should not be in school. Government needs to decide. Either Covid-19 is either a threat or it isn’t. Young people, who are the least vulnerable to severe Covid-19, have suffered and been deprived of too much. Online learning does not work for all students. Some inevitably get left behind, including those who can’t afford needed technology; special education students who need services; and others who need normal in-person interaction to stave off depression, anxiety and antisocial behavior. Moreover, since most workplaces are open, many students will not have adults at home during the day. Who is going to ensure that they log on? Unfortunately, some will not, and many, despite not being in school, will not stay home. They will go elsewhere and spend time with friends or older relatives, some of whom may be more vulnerable to severe illness than their schoolmates. Furthermore, for some children, home is not a safe place, and school may be their only refuge from abuse. Lastly, in many other countries — even those seeing large outbreaks such as the United States — there is greater understanding of these concerns, and the focus is now on keeping schools open. For all these reasons, the Beaconite feels that at this point, closing schools will do very little to slow the virus or keep anyone safe, but there’s a good chance it will make VI students less educated and less mentally and physically healthy.
A Beaconite is shocked to see the surge in Covid-19 cases in the Virgin Islands in recent weeks. She remembers that during the first days of the pandemic, just one positive case of Covid-19 prompted a complete lockdown of the territory. This week, government has reported more than 600 active cases without the hospitals being overloaded and without the fear that each case would result in a death. Doctors and scientists said nearly two years ago that herd immunity and a vaccination programme would be key to moving forward from the pandemic. While a vaccine for Covid-19 was developed in record time, it created arguments across the entire world. But it’s one necessary step in overcoming the pandemic and resuming life as we knew it — to some extent. The lasting effects of the pandemic — physiological, economic, psychological, and so on — should still be explored and addressed, the reporter believes.