What the Coronavirus Means for the Hollis-Brookline Community

Erik Keldsen, Staff Writer

A couple months ago, a new story hit the headlines. In China, an unknown sickness, the coronavirus, emerged. At the time, it was causing lots of issues in China, but the worldwide impact was limited. Nonetheless, the virus continued to spread, as cases appeared in other countries. 

While this was going on, activity in the Hollis-Brookline community continued as usual.  Most people in the area were not concerned that this would have a significant impact on life here in New Hampshire. However, in the past week, everything changed. On the afternoon of Monday, March 9 families learned that an SAU 41 staff member was being tested for the virus. On Tuesday, all schools would be closed. Fortunately, the test came back negative. At this point, it still seemed like something that was not worth worrying too much about, but it made the community aware that it could become a problem. Then, over the next few days, a travel ban was enacted, schools began to close, and athletic events were cancelled. While everything is shut down, many are wondering what this means for the Hollis-Brookline community.

Maria St. Pierre, the Wellness teacher at Hollis Brookline High School, has experienced other health epidemics in the past, but nothing like COVID-19. “I think because it’s such a novel virus, we’re very cautious, because we’ve never seen it before,” said St. Pierre. One of the main problems of the virus is that people can have it for up to two weeks before they begin to show symptoms, and by that time they could have spread it to many others. The CDC recommends people stay at least six feet away from each other to prevent spreading of the virus. 

Some people have compared COVID-19 to the flu, which makes people wonder why there is such a fuss when the flu results in far more deaths than the coronavirus. “Symptomwise, they’re similar. The coronavirus is really like a cough/fever and lower respiratory, and it’s ‘catchier’ than the flu. Because it’s so new, we don’t have vaccinations against it, so more people are vulnerable,” said HBHS school nurse Kelly Ducharme. Not long ago, it was revealed that the coronavirus is officially a pandemic, which sounds pretty frightening. What this means is that the virus is rapidly spreading, not that it will kill everybody. Even if one catches the virus, they will most likely make a full recovery. However, the risk is greater for older folks or those with preexisting medical conditions.

With the coronavirus affecting so much, many people are starting to panic. “This outbreak is definitely serious, but the way that news is portraying it, the media, they are putting a sense of hysteria in people, and some people are acting out of fear,” said Ducharme. While some people believe the media is blowing things out of proportion, with the schools closed and public activities cancelled they cannot avoid the reality of the situation. However, now that everything is shut down, locals are wondering if the virus will be able to spread to the Hollis-Brookline community. “I do believe it will spread to our community because it’s already in New Hampshire and it’s just a matter of time before it gets to Hollis,” said Sacks. Currently, all schools in SAU 41 have moved to remote learning from Wednesday, March 18 to Friday, April 3rd, when the situation will be reevaluated.

While the fight continues, the Hollis-Brookline community can only watch and wait, hoping that the containment efforts will bring life back to normal. In the meantime, SAU 41 staff and administration will continue to do their best to stay one step ahead, keeping families informed while also maintaining privacy.