Hand sanitizer costs over $100. Publix is more crowded than Disney World. Toilet paper is harder to find than a four-leaf clover. Whether the City of Naples is ready or not, the coronavirus pandemic has arrived.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty that coronavirus (COVID-19) brings, citizens of Collier County are trying to stay calm and stop the spread of this rapidly growing virus. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that all Florida public schools were required to close until April 15. Additionally, DeSantis’ March 17 announcement informed the public that all statewide testing for students in Pre-Kindergarten to grade 12 have been canceled.

Following DeSantis’ declaration, CCPS released its eighth update about coronavirus and school closures on the CCPS website. 

The update informed Collier residents that the school closures include CCPS sites and the cancelation of activities that are located at these sites. This includes extracurricular activities, athletic practices/competitions and Adult and Community Education classes.

Public and private schools across the country and around the entire world have been closing their doors over the past week.

As of March 20, there have been 520 confirmed cases in Florida and 18 cases in the county. That number continues to rise daily.

“Keeping students healthy and safe is my number one priority, and that is why we are recommending that districts follow the CDC’s guidance for Florida,” Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said in a March 13 press conference.

Students are wondering what this means for their academic lives in the coming weeks and months. Though the district is still working out the details, it is very possible that CCPS schools could be switching to online learning until April 15. If the case numbers continue to rise, virtual learning could be implemented for the rest of the school year.

“It is essential that students do not fall behind and are still receiving instruction, even when they are not in the classroom,” Corcoran said. “I praise these districts for being prepared to swiftly implement distance learning. It is crucial that we keep students safe and healthy, and I will continue working with each and every district to ensure that they have all the resources necessary as we respond to COVID-19.”

The state is also making an effort to ensure that low-income students will be able to participate in virtual learning by redirecting unspent funds towards purchasing internet service and electronic devices for these students.

“If we are closed past this week, we will have work that will be online,” NHS English teacher Cody Seevers said.

Canvas is an app that some teachers have already started assigning work on, and if students are required to continue learning online, they can probably expect more schoolwork to complete through the app in the near future.

“I can tell you that as far as school goes, we are going to probably finish the school year acting as if we have an online classroom,” NHS track coach and math teacher Bronze Bruland said. “Even if we do get to meet together in person because some people will move faster online than others.”

CCPS says they are prepared to make the switch to virtual learning. 

According to the eighth update on the CCPS website, “Collier County Public Schools is ready to transition to virtual/online continuous learning for students. We will provide further details about our Continuous Learning Plan in an update later this week.”

Until then, teachers suggest that students should keep their minds active by reading and doing other educational activities.

“As far as keeping minds active, everyone should be reading!  Newspapers, novels, non-fiction books…anything!” Seevers said.

Ali Perry, parent of middle and high school students, agrees that students need to continue to do educational exercises while they are out of the classroom.

“We took a break from educational activities over spring break, but are planning to read more this week,” Perry said. “Will also tackle any assignments from school.”

Students should continue to check Canvas for new school assignments and can visit http://www.collierschools.com/covid19 for new updates about online learning in Collier County.

In addition to education, the coronavirus is also having a huge impact on athletics. High school sports are being put to a halt, and many athletes are wondering what this means for their seasons.

“None of the cancelled meets will be rescheduled at this time,” Bruland said. “There may be a possibility of finishing the season but we frankly don’t know at this time.”

Many seniors are devastated that their last season of high school sports is being cut short, but that doesn’t mean they are losing hope yet.

As for the rest of the student body, many students were ecstatic when they heard that their spring break would be lengthened by over a month; while others were worried that they would get behind on work and their summer breaks would be shortened to compensate for what many are calling the “Corona Break.”

During her time off of school, freshman Camille Sonalia said she is “planning to get tanner and improve my self-image.”

Students are trying to figure out things to do that don’t require much interaction with other people to conform with the idea of social distancing.

“They could rearrange their room, work out, tan, go swimming, do makeup/paint your nails, watch movies, etc.,” Sonalia said.

Perry also suggested some activities for kids to do if they get bored.

“Last week was Spring Break so we tried to relax as much as possible. We tackled a few DIY home projects and are planning more this week and in the weeks to come,” Perry said. “Kids still need exercise so bike rides, swimming and running are all good options.”

Perry also suggested board games, movie nights, cooking, FaceTiming for socialization with friends and possibly washing mom’s car for coronavirus-free activities.

All students, but especially seniors are feeling the impacts of the coronavirus on the end of their 2019-2020 school year. It’s possible that events for upperclassmen/seniors like prom, Project Graduation, Grad Night and even graduation commencement exercises will be postponed or even canceled.

“It really sucks because you know you have been working towards senior year basically your whole high school career, and to finally be one and have it taken away really sucks,” NHS senior Kenzie Giblin said. “And what’s even worse about it is the waiting. Are we ever going to go back to school? Am I ever going to see my school friends again?”

Giblin is also unsure if she will be able to present her laureate that she has been working on for the whole school year.

Seniors are wondering what the coronavirus means for their final months of high school. Some even want to go back to school.

“It’s all just a sad situation because I won’t be able to do things that I have been looking forward to and that I have taken for granted. It’s really surprising to say this, but I actually miss school and would love to go back,” Giblin said.

It’s hard for everyone to stay inside all day without any social interaction, but avoiding contact with other people is one surefire way to stop the spread of the virus. Other ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 are to sanitize and wash hands more frequently, stay farther away from people and try to avoid public places.

“We are staying away from public places more than usual, but not fully avoiding. When we are in public places, we maintain a healthy distance from others,” Perry said. “No shaking hands; no high fives; no contact. We sanitize as soon as possible.”

CCPS has recommended that people continue to develop healthy habits like washing hands and using hand sanitizer.

Students should stay updated on the newest information on the CCPS website and stay safe during these difficult times. With every day comes new information about this unprecedented pandemic.