That was the headline. And so our last opportunity to venture out and away was quickly pulled out from under us. The rise of COVID-19 cases worldwide, causing travel restrictions to be implemented by various countries such as Singapore prohibiting all foreigners from entering and transiting the country from 23rd of March 2020 and only allowing people working in essential services, such as healthcare and transport, to enter the country. This caused many students, especially seniors and their families, to cancel their Spring Break plans in fear that it would be very difficult to re-enter Singapore. By more health-related rationales, friends and family worry that traveling out of Singapore could put them in a vulnerable situation where they could be a victim of the current virus.
A popular destination that most SAS seniors go for their Spring Break trip has always been Bali. Just to refresh our minds, Bali is an Indonesian island known for its beaches, drinking and partying. This is such a well-known destination for Spring Breakers in Asia that even a previous Eye Reporter, Anthony Sadler, had written an article regarding how mushrooms, also known as magic mushrooms which contain a drug that makes people believe they are seeing things that are not real, were heavily used in Bali by previous Spring Breakers but quickly become illegal in 2015 when Indonesia’s seventh President Joko Widodo was inaugurated. Stepping away from the mushroom talk, this destination allowed our seniors to destress from their senioritis, and are finally allowed to party all day and all night in one week. I’d like to say Spring Break could be renamed as Party Week, but I’m not much of a partier so who am I say.
Also, on March 18th, Indonesia had been declared to have the highest record of death tolls in Southeast Asia, which was 19 at that current time. As of right now, on April 13th, they have 4,557 cases with 399 deaths. This alarming news had sadly pushed many students to cancel their Spring Break plans because they worry they might become a victim of the virus and potentially spread it to the school community. In classes, I heard students weeping on how they were supposed to leave for their Bali trip Friday night. And even hearing complaints of how they aren’t able to receive refunds on their plane tickets or hotel expenses. Yet many knew going on the trip could be severely dangerous for their health and others around them.
I am personally saddened at the fact that I wasn’t able to experience what a Spring Break is like and even missed a great opportunity to spend quality time with friends. For many people, this is the trip they look forward to the start of their senior year. Students even plan a whole year before getting the cheapest flight tickets and affordable hotel bookings so that they can have a fun time with their friends. In my situation, my friends and I weren’t going to Bali but instead, we had planned on staying at Legoland Malaysia for 2 nights then transferring to a hotel in Sentosa Island to spend the rest of the week with each other. This plan, even though it sounds kiddish, was perfect for me because I was able to take my mind off school, family, and even my life in Singapore, to just spend a whole week with my friends. But that dreamy week was cut short.
As the days went by, Spring Break was coming closer but the cases in Singapore were increasing. On March 15th, 2020, 5 days before Spring Break, it was informed to our school community that a parent had been tested positive for COVID-19 which caused a bit of chaos to which many parents didn’t feel comfortable sending their child to the school that coming week. Then on March 17th, 2020, 3 days before Spring Break started, there were 23 new cases that days which totaled the overall number of cases in Singapore to 266. To compare this number, as of April 20th, 2020, the total number of cases in Singapore is 6,588. The number of cases increasing each day caused parents to worry which resulted in many students having to stay in Singapore for their Spring Break. But those plans were quickly cut short too.
As the cases in Singapore started to increase each day, many people were encouraged to stay at home as much as possible. At that time, before the Circuit Breaker, people were still able to go to stadiums, walk on the beach, and even hang out with friends. But measures, such as discouraging large events with more than 100 people and even workplaces having their employees work from home, were being placed. Yet, these measurements couldn’t stop the number of cases in Singapore to reduce. On March 17th, 2020, our school came out with a notice that we would have 2 days of online school to prepare for the possibility that home-based learning would be implemented in Singapore. During that time, many students knew that even their Spring Break at Singapore wouldn’t happen.
The movement of #StayatHome was being practiced by many students and their families during Spring Break so that the curve for the virus would reduce. During this time, many people were creative about how and where they communicated with friends. The popular online chat service mainly used for teleconferencing and distance education, Zoom, started to become a big hit for people to use it for personal reasons. In my friend group, we had used Zoom to spend quality time with each other by setting out a time to chat, play games such as Hangman, Jackbox, and even the online version of Cards Against Humanity, and on some days we watched movies together. I would say my Spring Break mainly consisted of watching movies and playing Hangman on Zoom, it was pretty eventful. Yes, it wasn’t an ideal Spring Break but I am grateful for having the resources to reach out to friends and spend quality time with each other, online.
When I asked other seniors regarding how they felt towards their Spring Break plans being canceled and even having to stay at home most days. Senior Anika Agarwal had said “My original plan for Spring Break was to go on a senior trip with friends. However, because of the larger number of cases in Singapore and the increasing travel restrictions, these plans were canceled. Instead, I spent almost all my time at home with family, watching movies, and calling friends.” Another Senior Hannah Wald had a similar Spring Break experience when she mentioned how her “family and she were supposed to go to visit Berlin and Amsterdam, but plans were canceled because of the virus. The most exciting thing I did over the break was to watch A Goofy Movie.” While Senior EJ Park had a different experience during her Spring Break she said: “even though my prior plans were canceled, I ended up being sick during Spring Break but at least I got to chill at home and was able to hang out with my friends over Zoom.”
It’s clear that many original Spring Break plans were cut short due the number of COVID-19 cases all over the world rising, to keep this in perspective, there are currently around 2 million people in the world infected with this disease. It is scary to think about how there were many students, especially seniors, who would have been traveling all over the world and putting themselves in a vulnerable spot. Luckily, with resources such as Zoom, Netflix Party, and even online board games, has allowed many of us to spend our Spring Break differently. It isn’t an ideal situation but with the current events going on worldwide we all adapted to the situation to keep ourselves and our families safe. And now when I am older I can gladly say that I have experienced what a virtual Spring Break is like.