Another week passes; dangers of isolation emerge


Photographer: Laranya P

Teneen Virtual School is the website used for teachers to communicate with students (along with applications like Zoom) and assign tasks and tests.

Laranya P., Reporter

Virtual school. What a bittersweet feeling of going to school from home, free to do what you like, so free – in fact – that it’s worrisome. Of course, everyone cherishes the extra half hour of sweet sleep and a lax environment. However, such a sedentary lifestyle and the necessity of strong self-control is proving too much for some students.

Qatar has confirmed the nation’s first death caused by COVID-19. There are now 693 cases, with an additional 59 people testing positive. Fortunately, 51 patients have been discharged after recovering, said the Ministry of Public Health in a statement released March 30.

Except for food stores and pharmacies, everything has shut down: mosques, cinemas, shops, cinemas, sporting events, bars, schools, you name it. Additionally, a section of the Industrial Area is temporarily shut down and surrounded by military servicemen. Stressing the importance of social distancing, “The Ministry of Public Health urges all citizens and residents to avoid gatherings in public places, [and] to avoid travel for the time being except if absolutely necessary.”

Current estimates as to the period virtual school will be open range from 6 to 10 weeks.

The worst part of virtual school must be isolation. We humans are social beings. Our brains are engineered to communicate and connect with others; in fact, the neocortex of the human brain is significantly larger than animals of the same size. The neocortex contains many areas of the brain related to complex social awareness such as language, the ability to understand the feelings and intentions of others, behavioral and emotional regulation, and conscious thought. 

With this biological and psychological social system evolved to thrive around people, isolation’s worst impact is loneliness, which is damaging to both our mental and physical health. Socially isolated people are more likely to suffer from paranoia and depression, to be less able to deal with stressful situations, to have a weakened immune system, and to struggle with processing information, which can worsen difficulties with memory storage and recall.

Luckily, there is some silver lining for this storm cloud. According to Science Alert, “people who have faced the challenge of being alone for an extended period of time may show personal growth – including emotional growth, feeling closer to family and friends, and having a better perspective on life.” With this in mind, it is crucial for student and teachers to stay close and forge strong bonds with their family, frequently contacting friends and spending the extra time doing things that make them happy.

Students have found numerous small perks, which, when piled up, have a massive boost on morale. A. Zamudio (’23) finds that things like listening to music, waking up later, eating whenever, and the freedom in general “just motivate me, calm me, and make me feel happy and at ease during an assignment.

Agreeing, H. Giri (’23) stated that “despite the cons of not having an interactive learning environment, it [virtual learning] provides us with more time to work and requires us to take initiative for our work.”

ASD teachers and staff have been doing an amazing job of raising spirits too, sending emails with heartwarming messages such as “over the past few weeks you have been universally magnificent in adapting to the new learning environment,” and “the most striking thing about you all is your ability to adapt and to keep going, despite the changes.”

Keep strong, everyone, and take all precautions against the virus. ASD is a resilient community capable of surviving the ever-changing obstacles thrown at us!

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