Ms. Ginny Harvey, who teaches World History and AP Psychology here at Parkview High School, has tested positive for the Coronavirus.
Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, the virus has infected over 1 million people. This pandemic has also been rampant within the Parkview community. March 13th was like any other day for most people. This was the last normal day many remember, wherein wearing a mask and utilizing hand sanitizer was not necessary seemingly every second.
It was a Friday and school was over for most students. It was a period where the severity of the virus was constantly downplayed or seen as something that could be disregarded with a shrug of the shoulders. Ms. Harvey states, “My students were preparing to take the Gateway and were making jokes about the virus they’d started hearing about in the news, as kids do. It seemed so funny, odd at the time.”
Parkview Panthers were looking forward to a well-deserved break and a short vacation from the stress linked to a typical school day. “I was exhausted watching students goofing off in a corner of the classroom, not taking my class seriously, and couldn’t wait to leave that afternoon after a slow week of restless teens, counting the weeks down to Spring Break. The chairs where a few girls were dancing to their Tik Tok remain as they were, and that break came faster than we could have imagined,” says Ms. Harvey.
The social studies educator discusses where she first began her self-quarantine as she states, “I began quarantining after my early birthday dinner, and last meal at a Brazilian Steakhouse on Tuesday, March 17th. I spent the great majority of the initial quarantine at my parent’s house in Brookhaven to keep the family all in one place.”
“My sister… and I decided to temporarily move in with our parents. My sister works for Coach … which often sees a variety of international travelers. The stores were notified to be on alert of the increase in cases, but most people weren’t too concerned with precautions early on in the spread,” she says as she t the concerns around COVID at the time.
Ms. Harvey explains that she can only wonder and trace back to, ”…March 19th, [when] a tour group allegedly from China visited her [sister’s Coach] store. My sister claims a woman who was wearing a mask, before it became commonplace, removed hers to ask a question and coughed in her face as she was leaning over to speak. We can in no way confirm or deny this is where we were exposed to the virus, and only have this one account from my sister. Nobody that I know of from Parkview tested positive for the virus during that time. I doubt we will ever know for sure how we became exposed.”
Things began to take a turn for the worst as Ms. Harvey gave in detail what it was like to experience the virus. She states:
“During the second week of quarantine around March 22nd, my sister’s boyfriend broke social distancing and came to our house to visit for a day. Afterward, he went home to his family, and within a week both his entire family and mine were very sick. Our symptoms began a few days before his, starting with my sister, then mother, my father, and finally, myself. My sister woke up the morning of Tuesday, March 24th with extreme fatigue and a fever of 100.6. I have a recorded meeting with the other World History teachers at the school where I am literally talking about this on the first day I started showing symptoms. My mom told us she started feeling feverish the night before… She came home and did not leave the house for two weeks. My dad came next, experiencing similar symptoms to my mom and sister.” She mentions how his health was also on the decline before the virus as well.
She then goes on to explain her experience as the sickness spread through the house. Her symptoms were different from everyone else’s. She turned out not to be asymptomatic and experienced “… chills, high fever, soreness, and extreme insomnia…” From here on out, she downplays the symptoms and tries to ignore it as if it were nothing. When the symptoms were beginning to appear much stronger than before, she was eating a spicy Poke bowl and watching tv when she realized that she could not smell or taste the food. This caused a bit of panic. “One night my dad started coughing so badly with a 101 temperature that I almost had to drive him to the hospital, which terrified us all. I’ve had people ask why we never went to the hospital. At the time, hospitals were flooded, and since we weren’t sure we had it until later when we took the antibodies test, we were afraid we could get it by going to a hospital,” Ms. Harvey mentioned. Everyone in her family has tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. Her test was taken on May 11th, and in just a few short days she received her positive results.
Ms. Harvey said that she still felt uneasy and that there was a feeling similar to fire in her lungs; she experienced a certain paranoia as well as a fever and chills. “The mental drain this virus has isn’t being talked about as much in the media. I was still able to complete all of my tasks for work (Zoom meetings, lesson planning, grading, talking to my students, etc) and playoff the sickness when talking to others, but something felt off.” Managing an ample amount of sleep was also difficult for her. While she was battling with her own symptoms there were also three others in the house whom she had to look after. Because the other members in her family were more ill than she was, she would do the grocery runs for her family.
As an AP Psychology teacher, she expresses, “Mentally, I wanted to believe this was just something we were all making up due to the circumstances of isolation. I wanted it to be the flu or a serious case of bronchitis.” She jokingly mentioned, “ I did not want to believe we’d caught the ‘rona, this surreal, otherworldly thing that people on social media were making jokes about, like Cardi B, so I did my best to block it out.”
“Given what we know now, a hospital would have likely been our best move, but we opted to self-quarantine instead and ride out the virus.” She revealed that even though they took precautions seriously, they were still fearful. As they remained in self-quarantine and avoiding going to the hospital, they saw progress as they got better right around April 6th.
Even after having tested negative for the virus, she states “This virus doesn’t go away completely. I’ve had heartburn and back pain despite working out a lot. Some days I can’t even get out of bed. Some days I still wake up in the middle of the night with cold sweats, or I’ll find myself starting to nod off during my planning period.” She mentions how she can not always tell the difference between symptoms of COVID or if it is just, “general pandemic teaching stress.” Ms. Harvey comments on how her “ body is not where it was before the virus.” She also expresses how it affects her while she is working. “It’s a crazy feeling knowing I still am not 100 percent, months after having COVID,” she says.
As an educator, it is difficult for teachers to perform their jobs comfortably. This is because they do not know who could be infected or not. Including herself and the risks, she could bring to students. Ms. Harvey acknowledges:
“I’m also a teacher in the middle of a pandemic. Numbers are down, but we all fear the second wave, and Georgia is doing little to nothing to stop the spread. I worry about older teachers coming back to school and interacting with mass groups of students, and I can’t help but be concerned at the stress all of us, parents, teachers, and students alike, are going through. I’ve bought battery-operated lanterns, string lights, essential oil diffusers, anything I can to bring about a positive mindset in my classroom for the students.”
As case numbers increase, it appears the worry and fear of the virus spreading are fluctuating. Coming from someone who has gotten the virus and went through a rollercoaster of experience, Ms. Harvey advises, “Since having Covid-19, I’m trying to stay as healthy as possible, and hate the days when I don’t. Orangetheory [a fitness gym] opened up in early May, and I’ve hardly missed a class. I can tell months later my body does not work the same way it used to, but as to if that goes away at some point or gets worse who knows. I’m even hearing my antibodies may not still be effective, which is frightening.” She mentions how she is worried about how the virus would affect her body long term as she has stated how different she feels ever since having had the virus. “I’m not going to say I am relieved to have had it, but it’s been an experience and something to share with future generations,” she expresses with great consideration as it could be an educational experience for years to come.