Emma Boyle

Today we begin a week that is unprecedented by what we have experienced so far. Most of the schools across the nation are now closed and in the process of transitioning to remote learning. The few students returning to campus after spring break return to a world without churches, bars, gyms or event venues. 

Yet, this is not something that our fellow Volunteers have not weathered before. On Oct. 3, 1918, following the first three deaths in Knoxville of the Spanish Flu, the City Board of Health also extended similar measures to the city, and the University of Tennessee cancelled classes. Living in a world before technology, rather than broadcasting their sermons like we can today, preachers’ sermons were printed in the newspapers to keep people from congregating. By the end of October, the epidemic waned, leaving 132 residents dead – around the same number that Knoxville lost in WWI.

Today we have incredible technology that enables us to finish our semesters (even if they are made 1,000 times more difficult), video call our friends, build Minecraft servers of campus and give us access to more resources than we could previously dream of. 

Take advantage of the many meditation/relaxing/breathing/exercising apps available for your phone, take a walk outside – 6 foot minimum of course – and stay as healthy as possible. While we have weathered pandemics before, we live in an age of increased social interaction and the normalization and ease of international travel. 

Please appreciate the importance of social distancing. You are not invincible, regardless of your age, and there are many around you that could die from being infected, even if you won’t. The fewer social interactions we have, the sooner we can go back to our normal lives. 

Seniors, I am sincerely sorry how this pandemic is affecting your last few weeks of school. While I am not graduating this year (leap year wooo!), I still am missing the last few months with my friends, and I cannot imagine how hard it is for you. Please hang in there, focus on school and take care of yourself! You are the most important part of your equation, stay healthy and sane!

A few tips from the Spanish Flu, printed in the New Sentinel on Oct. 5, 1918:

  • Remain at home, don’t get in crowds. “Influenza is a crowd disease.” 
  • Smother your coughs and sneezes — “others do not want the germs which you would throw away.”
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth.
  • “Remember the three C’s — a clean mouth, clean skin and clean clothes.”
  • “Try to keep cool when you walk, and warm when you ride and sleep.”
  • Open the windows, particularly at home at night.
  • Wash hands before eating.
  • “Don’t let the waste product of digestion accumulate — drink a glass or two of water on getting up.”
  • “Avoid tight clothing, tight shoes, tight gloves.”

Emma Boyle is a senior majoring in political science. She can be reached ateboyle1@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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