COVID19 – The New Normal

Luis Cruz

My name is Luis Cruz and my Photovoice project is focused on the Coronavirus, and how it is considered to be our new temporary normal.

The participant I have chosen is my mother, Esther Gomez. She is a strong independent Puerto Rican who just turned 46 years old. A mother of three who currently works at a public school as a teacher for special needs kids. I choose my mom because she is the most important person in my life and I wanted to take a deeper look at how she is dealing with the current situation and what she is being able to get out of it. Esther is very happy I chose her as my participant and is willing to fully cooperate throughout the project, giving me full consent to use her pictures and written statements.

 

“Teaching from the classroom to online learning has become one of the biggest challenges in the education system. During spring break the outbreak of coronavirus became a big concern to our health and our society. The education system as well as many other companies needed to follow the stay-at-home order from the government. For the education system that meant that the teachers only had a few days to prepare for a new mission, distance learning. Learning how to meet with our students online, assign homework, present new lessons, follow the standards from the district, and at the same time show the students that there is hope, is a big mission that we, as teachers, need to accomplish. Teaching elementary grades can be very emotional, students at that age become very attached to their teachers, we are their role models, and the ones that support and cheers them up every day when they enter the classroom. Distance learning is a big responsibility that we have towards our students, other than teaching, the students need to feel that they will receive the same support as if they were in class, they need to feel that by keeping a positive attitude everything will be okay. Learning to use Google Classroom, which is the distance learning program used in our school, was not that easy at the beginning. We were asking ourselves: “Will this work? Our students will be able to connect? Will they do their work? Will they attend to our Google Meet? There were so many unanswered questions that nobody knew the answers, only time will tell. Now that we have been for three weeks with distance learning, some of those questions have been answered. I believe that for being in such a short time of distance learning it hasn’t been that bad at all. The way parents have helped us with our students it’s been awesome, I believe that without their support, the results would be not the same. All we have to do is keep a good attitude, keep calm and just take care of our health until this ends.”
No matter what the situation is, my mom will always look at the bright side of things and keep on going with life. It is very rare for my mom to complain. She truly loves her job, and wouldn’t change it for any other. As seen above, she is a little upset that she is not allowed to see her students on a daily basis and it’s just not as exiting working from home. She had no idea how to use any of the new websites she is using now, such as Zoom and Google meet, and that is some of the positive points she is taking out of the situation, as she is learning new things. Even though she is not physically allowed to go to school and see her kids, she is happy she at least gets to see her kids through these virtual websites. Something that surprised me from what my mom said is how these kids had to adapt to all these changes in such a short period of time, and how well they are doing!

 

“Lifestyles and exercise should not be placed in hold. During this quarantine, we can’t let ourselves become another piece of furniture in our house. Staying at home doesn’t mean that we are not going to do anything other than eat and watch T.V. I think it should be the opposite, now is the time for you as a person to put a hold and think about those things that you have not been able to accomplish, and how I can change that. It is a moment to think about ourselves and the ones around us, a moment to learn and set new goals in life. With this pandemic, staying the whole day sitting down the whole day is just not me. My job as a teacher has changed, before I used to move all around the classroom, around the school, to the playground, and the office. Now I am almost the whole day sitting down in front of a computer having google meets and creating new lesson plans that have been adapted to the new distance learning. After a week of distance learning, I told myself: STOP, you can’t be sitting down every day in front of a computer, you need to move, you need to release some energy, do something productive for yourself! That’s when I decided to start exercising again, and I just LOVE it!”
My mother is a very active person, who once gets home from work she always goes to the gym with her friends. She is into yoga, cycling, zumba, pilates and probably every class the gym offers. Since the gyms all have been closed for weeks, my mom decided to make our little gym in our backyard. Now she has a daily routine, from working at home and then working out every day in our backyard, but without her friends. When quarantine started, I was very lazy and all I would do is watch TV, but my mom made me do her routine with her one day, just to try it out. I was surprised at how much my mom would do in a 45-minute workout, so I decided to work out with her every day. This way she isn’t doing it by herself, and I am doing my body a favor as well. She wants the best for herself and everyone around her, and won’t let anyone in the house be lazy all day. Whether it’s working out, reading a book or school-related work, anything that makes your brain work!

 

“The way we go shopping now? This has changed significantly, the precautions that we, as shoppers, need to have when going grocery shopping is has made us very aware of the things that we took for granted before and what it is now. I have never been so aware of all the germs that are around us, how we are afraid to breathe, to move, what to touch or not what to touch, we just don’t want to get sick. No one prepared us for this pandemic, changing lifestyles has been very hard, staying at home is now the safe thing to do. Who would have imagined that in the year 2020 our lives would be so different? No hugging, no kissing, maintaining a social distance of 6ft. is just unexpected. The new way of living at this moment is to think twice if you need to go out, and if you do, get ready to accomplish a mission. Every time I need to go out, the mask, the gloves, the hand sanitizer, and the Clorox wipes have become more important than even your whole purse. You just grab the driver’s license, the way you will pay and your phone, that’s all you need! That’s not all, think about when you get back from doing grocery shopping, all the things that you have to do with the items bought are just time-consuming, which at this moment the concept of “time” should not be a big concern, now you have all the time to do it, there is no rush, you have nowhere else to go. Like I was saying before, coming back with all the groceries, disinfecting everything item by item can drain you a lot. Germs are everywhere and we just don’t want them near us, they have become our new fear, our enemy. Just think about twice before going out, because if you do, get ready to disinfect everything around you!”
My mom is right, all we think about now is germs and how they are everywhere. How aware we are of washing our hands and maintaining our areas clean. Leaving the house is not permitted at all in my household, as groceries are the only reason anyone is allowed to leave. My mom is always the one doing this, she would prefer for all of us to stay home. She goes to Publix once a week, and she leaves the house with her mask and pair of gloves every time. She has been wearing all her protective gear since early March, as she is a very precautious person. Once she gets back from her trips, she is at least an hour disinfecting everything she bought. It is a lot of disinfecting to do, so my brothers and I always offer to help. I can only imagine how depressing a store looks like with every customer wearing masks, it is something that has never been seen before. My mom tells me that she will never get used to seeing people like this, and it is something she still doesn’t believe.

Theme: Throughout this project, many themes can be seen. I want to focus on perseverance. That is what this pandemic is all about, how we choose to manage our days and the attitude we have towards it. Before the COVID 19 outbreak, my mom would regularly go to school and the gym as her daily routine, and when she went on grocery runs no mask or gloves were necessary. However, some modifications to her life have been made, as everything is being done from home and there are a lot more precautions when it comes to grocery shopping. In life, one must adapt to changes, even if they are temporary, and that is currently what we are doing. Perseverance is all about determination and not giving up, looking for ways to accomplish things while sticking to a plan.
Throughout the class, there were many important readings and videos provided. In module three, there was one called National Geographic Air Pollution, and I believe this one is very similar to what is currently going on in the world. Although air pollution might not be seen as such a drastic problem when comparing it to a current global pandemic, it still kills millions of organisms each year. Right now, everyone around the globe is staying home as they do it to stop the spread of this virus. Everyone is putting on their part, working together as a planet. This has never been seen before, and very slowly things have been getting better. Imagine if the world worked together to stop other issues as well, like air pollution. That does not mean staying at home like what we are having to do for the coronavirus, many other ways will help reduce emissions of air pollution. If the whole planet put in some effort, just like they are doing with COVID19, air pollution would drastically decrease and millions won’t have to die each year. If the human population works towards something together, they can accomplish anything they want.

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