Jack Explains It All: Coronavirus Vocabulary


Jack Knight, Reporter

During this unexpected and unusual time we are currently experiencing, great changes are being made all around us that will change the course of history. A sudden need to understand what is happening  and a need to adapt to the “New Normal” of our lives has  made more people pay attention to the news and read more articles. Junior Kylie Woods said, “I’m not one to read news articles, but lately I’ve been interested in what’s going on in the world.” What’s going on has required people of all ages to experience an increase in vocabulary skills. From social media right down to our own school district, people are hearing and using new words that cause listeners to stop and say, “Wait. What?”

Interestingly, our Lakeview district-wide learning focus this year has been on increasing vocabulary understanding. All year, teachers have been learning and using a program called “The Key Vocabulary Routine” to help students increase their understanding of vocabulary within different subject areas. For two years now, students have been testing in a vocabulary program called Lexia and then working to increase vocabulary understanding through a program called Power Up.

Who would have thought this massive shake up of our lives would provide an unwanted vocabulary lesson of its own? The Bulldog Bulletin asked various groups from LHS what new words they have learned since the Coronavirus crisis began.

First up is what to call this whole thing. Assistant Principal Michael Detoro noted the term novel-coronavirus, Guidance Counselor Trista Gustas mentioned Covid-19, Junior Jeffrey Jiang and Senior Maggie Bork called it just Coronavirus. Who is right? Well, they all are. The World Health Organization settled on the name COVID-19 getting CO from Corona, VI from virus , D for Disease and 19 because it was first diagnosed in 2019. When first diagnosed it was a new type of coronavirus and so the tag “novel” meaning new, was used for awhile until the disease was actually called COVID-19.

Next up is what we are all doing at this time. As Athletic Director Ron DeJulio says about new words he has learned in all this, “The biggest one is social distancing. Never in my life have I ever heard or used that term.” This phrase was also mentioned by Detoro, Superintendent Jo Taylor, Senior Emily Stone, Business teacher Anne-Marie Alexander, Math teacher Kelly Prokop, and English teacher Kari Milliron. Social distancing is impossible in a school setting because it goes against everything we do since we are actually coming together to learn, participate in sports, play music, and enjoy life as a community. In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, everyone is asked to keep a distance of at least 6 feet in all directions from any other person when in a social setting. And that’s why we can’t be in the school building together. 

How we accomplish this distancing takes us to the next set of vocabulary words. Shelter in Place was mentioned by Media Specialist Andria Morningstar-Gray and Freshman Aylah Purdum. Because social distancing is impossible for every person during every second of every day, the next best thing is to limit the people that you are near and keep those people as your only contacts so that the disease can’t continue to spread. In other words, this is not the time to travel or even to visit your next door neighbors. If everyone could shelter in place long enough for the virus to die off, the world could be completely free of this disease. 

Related to Shelter in Place is the term quarantine as mentioned by Freshman Sophia Hawkins and “the difference between quarantine and isolation” as noted by Senior Madison Nigrin. While shelter in place means we’re all going to stay separated because we don’t know who might be a silent carrier of the disease, quarantine means someone or a group of people have likely been exposed to the disease and so they need to stay separated from everyone else until a long enough period of time has passed to prove that if they were exposed, they are now no longer able to expose others. Isolation occurs when someone has active symptoms of disease and must definitely be separated from others. 

So, if people are still going out to stores to get things, restaurants to get food, and sneaking out to see friends and thus continuing to spread the virus, why are the rest of us even trying to shelter in place? Well, we’re trying to Flatten the Curve, as noted by Taylor, Freshman Tessa Lindus, and English teacher Elisabeth Miller. If you are at all watching what the governor shows in the daily briefings, you know that the higher the peak of the curve, the greater the number of people who are sick all at once. Because the symptoms of this disease are extremely severe for many people, we’re trying to prevent a large number of people getting sick all at once and being more than our hospitals can care for. Another concern is that our country doesn’t have enough PPE, a term mentioned by Detoro, and one that means Personal Protective Equipment, the special masks, gloves, and other coverings that doctors, nurses, and anyone else must wear when coming in contact with someone who is sick with the disease. Without PPE, too many medical workers would become sick and then who would take care of the rest of us?

Some people say, let it happen – let all the people with weak immune systems get sick at once and get it over with so we can go back to being normal. That brings us to our next set of words as noted by Junior Avery Probst, Mitigated and Unmitigated. These terms are of course the opposite of each other. Unmitigated means we do nothing to stop the spread. Let the disease spread through our population. I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people who could get very sick and possibly die from this virus and I don’t want that to happen. Mitigated means we follow the governors orders to stay at home and do all we can to slow the spread long enough for researchers and scientists to identify ways to treat and save the lives of people who do get ill and develop ways to prevent people from ever getting sick from COVID-19 in the first place. Mitigation saves lives.

This all brings us to the number one word that everyone is certain they now understand: Pandemic.

Everyone from Seniors Stone, Morgan Jankovich, to Megan Cross now understand what Social Studies teacher Michael Johnson notes as the difference between “pandemic vs epidemic,” and Senior Rocco Bruno defines, “Pandemic: global outbreak.”  What we’re experiencing here at Lakeview and in Cortland is happening all over the entire world.

And that’s why we’re Zooming as Prokop calls the Zoom meeting office hours many teachers hold. And experiencing Asynchronous Learning as noted by Math teacher Heidi Monroe and Intervention Specialist Anita Shuster. As teachers record lessons and students watch them at any time of day instead of the bell to bell class periods of the normal school day, we are learning Asynchronously. We are still exposed to the same lessons as everyone else in the class, just not always at the same time.

End of Lesson.