Pierce Pioneer

UK COVID Strand Found at University of Washington

Between Dec. 25 and Jan. 20, 1,035 DNA samples were collected and tested at the University of Washington’s virology lab, two of which tested positive for the B.1.1.7 strain previously identified in the UK in September. 

Chris Spitters, a health officer for the Snohomish Health District says the district had already instituted standard case investigation, isolation, and contact tracing prior to learning about these cases; he adds that containment protocols will not be handled any differently than with standard COVID-19 cases.

In regards to vaccinations, UW medicine states that the current Pfitzer and Moderna vaccines will still be effective against new variants, but encourage taking extra precautions until then such as double masking, maintaining social distancing, and keeping your hands clean. “This new variant is 30%-50% more contagious than the original strain, so wearing masks and physical distancing is even more important,” UW stated.

The University of Washington encourages people to take extra care in following the CDC guidelines while awaiting their vaccinations. “[The] B.1.1.7 variant spreads the same way other coronaviruses spread; it’s just better at it,” UW stated. “Strictly following prevention measures is the best way to slow the spread of all variants of the virus that causes COVID-19.”

Recommended steps to take in order to prevent contracting or spreading the B.1.1.7 variant are maintaining a social distance of up to 6-feet with people not in your household, avoiding crowds or poorly ventilated areas, washing your hands, staying home or away from others if you or someone around you is showing signs of COVID-19, getting vaccinated when you are eligible, and/or wearing a properly fitting mask with multiple layers if available.

The University of Washington states that wearing a facial covering with at least two-layers can block up to 80% of exhaled respiratory particles as well as inhaled and adding a double facemask can provide additional filtration.

The B.1.1.7 variant may sound scary and new for the residents of Snohomish and King county, but by taking the necessary prevention steps and staying vigilant with our health as well as our community’s can make the situation easier to contain and manage.

Pierce College Athletic’s Road to Recovery

Pierce College reopens sports and practices on campus following a 2020 press release

In a press release on Dec. 13, 2021 the Northwest Athletic Conference confirmed that all sports would return to play during the Winter quarter. After competition was suspended on March 17, 2020, no NWAC programs have stepped on the field together in official contests. The Covid-19 pandemic has barred student-athletes from competing and practicing when some programs haven’t competed since fall of 2019.

During the first week of February, all Pierce College sports were up and running, beginning their safe return to play. This marks the first time that all sports have competed during the same quarter, which adds pressure to scheduling and safety measures. 

According to the NWAC’s Covid-19 Health and Safety Policies manual, each NWAC competition will conduct a four-phase plan that will ease restrictions going forward. 

The first phase or grey phase includes a mandatory shelter-in-place where student-athletes are limited to essential travel only. This travel includes work, food shopping, mandatory labs and school-related responsibilities. Coaches are not permitted to hold in-person meetings or engage in socially distant workouts for two weeks.

Once the shelter-in-place is completed, practices are able to occur in person. Full team practices are not permitted, as small team training in pods of five or six must be followed. Each pod could practice on the same field, but no contacts between each divided group are allowed. Once two weeks of this process is finished, teams will be able to resume full team practices. 

Moving into the yellow phase, teams will be allowed to resume full team practices and sports facility gyms will be allowed to open. In every phase, teams are required to wear masks at all times, including in games. Although, these protocols are subject to change as the NWAC and Pierce College follows the guidelines set by Pierce County and Washington State health officials.

Since Pierce County is in phase two of Governor Inslee’s Road Map to Recovery, Pierce College competitions are allowed to practice in full roster capacity. Other counties who remain in phase one will have to stay in small group practices until they meet three out of the four Covid-19 restrictions. 

According to the NWAC, these restrictions include a 10% decrease in biweekly cases per 100,000 people, a 10% decrease in biweekly Covid-19 hospitalizations, an ICU occupancy of less than 90%, and a test positivity rate of less than 10%.

When the NWAC enters the blue phase, all competitions are allowed to resume. Although, competitions this year will look different due to the banning of all fan attendance. This came as a measure to mediate the risk of Covid-19 exposure to NWAC student-athletes.

Before each game and practice, each player and coach is required to complete an online Health Check form to be eligible for competition. Furthermore, before each team meeting, all players and staff must have their temperature taken to ensure no symptoms of Covid-19 are shown.

Games are expected to take place on March 1 and have a window to complete all competition until June 15. This wide window allows each program to complete approximately 20 games for all sports. All games are subject to change as Covid-19 restrictions can alter the road to recovery laid out by the conference and state.

The NWAC and Pierce College sports will not be the same without fans and the support of Pierce students but there are several ways to catch every competition. All games will be streamed online through the NWAC website where all games can be viewed online. Another location for streamed games is through the NWAC Youtube channel that will broadcast all competitions.

In our want to social distance, has ordering delivery actually brought financial strain to restaurant businesses?

Since the Coronavirus pandemic began, third-party delivery apps such as Doordash, Grubhub, and Ubereats have seen double the amounts of customers and partnered businesses. Despite the large following these delivery apps have gathered, nobody seems to be on the winning side when it comes to ordering from them. To Irene Jiang of the Business Insider, restaurant owners may be losing money. 

“Diners are seeing their costs raised, either by delivery companies that need to pay delivery drivers or by the restaurant owners who raise prices to offset delivery fees,” Jiang stated. “And delivery drivers still make low, unpredictable wages frequently with no benefits.” 

Delivery services were popular pre-pandemic, but with the loss of dine-in options for many restaurants, delivery has become a way to substitute a loss of business and to help keep restaurants afloat. However, Jiang states that these local businesses are losing a large chunk of their money to pay for these delivery partnerships, approximately 30% in commissions. 

To offset these rates while supporting the community, look for restaurants that offer curbside pickup instead. Curbside pickup gives the restaurant all of the money directly and allows users and the restaurant staff to stay healthy and safe by social-distancing.

For those preferring delivery to takeout, Kerry Breen of Today would encourage checking to see if the restaurant delivers directly. “Third-party sites can charge restaurants a significant amount, meaning that only a small amount of what you’re spending goes to the restaurant you’re trying to support,” Breen stated. 

Delivery drivers are another piece of the food delivery puzzle, with drivers working on low salaries with little to no benefits during the COVID pandemic. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura of the New York Times revealed that while drivers working for food delivery apps can earn as much as $22 per hour, including tips, many drivers say they’ve never earned anywhere close to that much.

Since many delivery drivers are relying on these apps for full time income while their places of employment are closed, it’s important to tip drivers as much as possible when placing an order. An even better way to help out your delivery drivers is to tip in cash, especially with apps like Doordash that use gratuities to provide their workers’ minimum wages. 

The blog  Maid Sailors backs this up by saying when tipping a Dasher in cash, DoorDash has no record of it. “Instead, they see that the driver has not made the minimum guaranteed amount for the order, so they kick in the amount required to meet that minimum,” Maid Sailors stated. 

“On top of that, the driver receives the cash tip that you provided. This increases the driver’s total pay for the delivery without costing you an extra penny. In addition, paying cash makes the Dasher a happier person as they can readily use the money and not have to wait until payday.”

By following some of the examples above – ordering from local deliveries, doing curbside pickup, and paying attention to the pay models of different delivery apps – customers can help our local businesses and delivery workers while not doubling the cost of a single meal.

The pandemic’s impact on seasonal depression and mental health overall

A year defined by loneliness and anxiety, but also resilience is finally behind us.

Over the past few months, there were days that I would suddenly have dark thoughts. I’d be in the middle of homework and suddenly think, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?” and then continue before stopping shortly after because I lost my motivation.

It’s no surprise that 2020 became sluggish towards the end. With the days getting shorter approaching the winter solstice, it’s important to shed light on something that affects up to one in 10 people in the Pacific Northwest—Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

SAD is just one part of the bigger conversation around mental health. Though the stigma around it has gone down, it’s far from gone. As quarantine fatigue lingers, it’s more important than ever that we normalize discussion around mental health. 

SAD is characterised as a depression that comes around during certain parts of the year; usually during the winter months. There are many similarities between SAD and clinical depression, but what differentiates them is that SAD has a pattern. 

According to Faculty Counselor Jennifer Wright, the most common symptom is a lack of motivation. Grief and loss are common themes that people with SAD express, whether it be direct or indirect.

For Megan Irby, Faculty Counselor, she feels that quarantine will only make the effects of SAD worse for those experiencing it. “Everything has been exacerbated by the quarantine, especially with the second wave and more limitations,” Irby said.

“People are starting to get out a little bit more, [but] now with the new restrictions, they won’t have as many options to see people. It is going to get worse for people that already struggle with it.”

I myself wonder if people with SAD have noticed a difference between this winter and last winter. Is it hard to tell what is causing a lack of motivation? Or is last winter just a blur that no one remembers? 

According to Jennifer Wright, she doesn’t hear a trend one way or another. “[On] the flip side of that, I wonder if people were already so well practiced at it that it’s like, ‘Eh, I’m already used to being indoors,’” Wright said.

I try not to self diagnose. I don’t know if others have had similar feelings or what caused them. What I do know is that my feelings happened and that the pandemic might’ve been a factor. 

Covid fatigue is a pain. The past year felt like a jumbled mess to me, which is why it’s been hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I’m going through. So, I stick with what I know. I started writing down my thoughts in a journal so I can look back for patterns. This isn’t an immediate solution; it’s going to take some time.

There are things you can do if you suspect you have SAD. According to Irby—if you’re able—getting your blood levels check during a doctor visit can tell you if there are any deficiencies. Taking vitamin D supplements is a good idea for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest since we don’t get much natural sunlight. There are also light boxes that mimic sunlight on places like Amazon.

While discussing the stigma around mental health, Faculty Counselor Brenda Rogers mentions how she wants mental health to be an easier topic to talk about. “I wish seeing a counselor seemed like a tool—like having a trainer [at the gym],” Rogers said.

The conversation around mental health needs to be normalized. Speaking from personal experience, it’s no coincidence that Millennials and Gen Z joke about their mental health; It’s our way of coping. 

Even before the pandemic hit, the rate of depression among teens and young adults was on the rise. As an Asian-American student, I’m too familiar with how mental health issues are brushed to the side by family. 

Pierce College has a website with mental health resources and counselors who provide short-term therapy. I have been seeing a counselor for a couple months now and would honestly recommend it even if you don’t think what you’re going through is ‘serious enough.’

To say quarantine sucks is an oversimplification. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, whether they admit it or not. “If someone’s telling me, ‘I feel great! Everything is fine.’ I don’t believe them,” Wright said. “Nobody should be feeling fine right now, that’s not normal. It’s ok [not feeling fine], we’re in this together, and this is a time to support and love one another.”

You don’t always have to keep your chin up; what you feel is what you feel. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Whether it’s to the resources listed above to your friends. Brighter days—quite literally—lay ahead.

Social-distancing safe activities to participate in for 2021

The new year is here but the pandemic still remains. So before we all start making resolutions to travel more or visit with friends and family this year, let’s continue practicing some good social distancing habits such as keeping our gatherings virtual. Of course, this is all easier said than done; so if you’re struggling to keep your quarantine campaigns interesting, look no further. The following list has everything covered from movie nights to meal prepping.


 

Throw a Netflix Party

 

Ciara williams

There’s no doubt you’ve probably been staring at a screen for a majority of the pandemic, but with the Netflix Party chrome extension, you can enjoy all your favorite shows and movies with the added commentary of your friends and family. The History of Swear Words is one fine example of a new Netflix original, and with its host being Nicholas Cage and featuring several iconic guest stars such as Nick Offerman and Sarah Silverman, it makes for the perfect show to help you stay inside and destress.

Those looking to download the extension can do so here.

Have a game night

 

 

In the digital age of the 21st century, many games are being enjoyed on both console and computer, and the great thing about this is that there’s something for everybody to enjoy! If you’re looking to stick to the classics, board games like Uno, Monopoly, and Life all have their own digital counterparts that can be played at home with others or far apart on multiplayer. 

For the ones who enjoy a little more competition, the Nintendo Switch has games like Smash Bros and Mario Kart, the former of which having frequent updates and several ways to spice up your challenges to keep things interesting. PC users have a variety of co-op games ranging from thrilling ghost hunting simulators such as Phasmophobia to the stress-relieving farm simulators like Stardew Valley.

Host a virtual book club

 

If you’re looking for a way to stay entertained without looking at a screen then now might be the perfect time to get back into reading. With genres ranging from thrillers to romances, it’s easy to get immersed in a different time and place while stuck at home. By using a book club you can bond with your friends over your favorite characters and make predictions on future chapters. For fans of the mystery/thriller genre, Taylor Adams’s novel “No Exit” is an excellent story that I picked up over quarantine.

Try out some new recipes

 

Whether you’re flying solo in the kitchen or having a cooking contest with friends via Zoom, cooking is an activity that can be both fun and rewarding. If you cook regularly you might like trying your hand at something you haven’t made yet; the cooking website Tastesofhome happens to have a whole list for the occasion. You don’t have to excel at cooking to make delicious food either; plenty of restaurants have started selling meal kits since the pandemic began so you can make your favorite dine-out meals at home with only some assembly required!

Experience nature at a local wildlife refuge

 

If you’re running out of ideas while indoors and you’re tired of taking walks around your neighborhood you may be interested in knowing that several of Washington’s wildlife refuges such as The Northwest Trek Wildlife Park and The Nisqually Wildlife Refuge have updated their health guidelines to continue allowing visitors into their parks during the pandemic. Of course, this means you’ll have to bring a mask and stay six-feet apart from anyone not in your group, but you’ll get to stretch your legs and take in some of Washington’s beautiful flora and fauna.


Until all our favorite shops and restaurants can open their doors again and we can walk side by side with our friends, let’s put the technology of Zoom meetings, Skype calls, and Discord chats to use so that no matter where we are we can still be together with those we love.

COVID Affecting the Holiday Spirit

How online shopping and COVID restrictions is affecting our yearly holiday festivities

This time of year my family would be overjoyed with the Christmas spirit. We’d watch movies and drink hot chocolate together as we’d happily wrap gifts for everyone. But now it’s different; I feel depressed and not in the mood to do anything festive this year.

This is especially the case after Thanksgiving, where all we did was buy food and go to my grandma’s house for the holiday. After we ate, we left because everyone was tired. This pandemic has affected my family so much, and has left many of us stressed and drained.

For me, it’s having to do schoolwork online with the pressure to pass that has affected my holidays. On the other hand, my parents are worried about money and having to work during the pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee put the restrictions to prevent more cases, such as limiting group sizes for gatherings or in-store shopping. Yet many people, including my family, have gone Black Friday shopping, by either using curbside pickups or shopping online. 

I thought Black Friday wasn’t going to be a big thing like the years before. However, while it was, it mostly took place online with events like Cyber Monday. But to me, shopping online isn’t the same as going to the store and picking the item out yourself, wrapping it and giving it to someone. Instead, if you shop online, you can just ship the gift to the person.

Many things have changed since the pandemic, but we can change too. We might not be able to shop like we could previously, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do for the holidays. Doing little things at home, such as baking and giving them to our families can return some of that festive spirit that seems to be missing.

One other thing people can do to make this year a little better is visit the Pierce County Light Shows, with the Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Lake Park, located on 14905 Bresemann Blvd. South, Spanaway, taking place daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. all the way until Jan. 3.

This can make someone’s day, even if that something is as little as baking cookies, watching a movie, or just driving around seeing Christmas decorations. So let’s not be as gloomy as the Grinch and get up. Watch something with your family and do the traditional things you would before. COVID does not have to define how you end your year.

Gov. Inslee extends state COVID restrictions to Jan. 4

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that current state restrictions have been extended to Jan. 4, past its original end-date of Dec. 14. Inslee has since partnered with Lisa Brown, the department of commerce director, to announ+ce an additional $50 million care package plan for small businesses in Wash.
As reported on the gov.’s official site, this three-week extension follows healthcare systems nearing high occupancy levels coming from the aftermath of Thanksgiving. With the number of potential cases not yet known, the extension allows medical systems time to increase ICU capacity before it risks being overwhelmed.
Secretary of Health John Wiesman, as cited by the Medium, goes on to state what officials aim to gain from this extension. “We all hoped a fall surge would not materialize. Sadly, that was not the case and our hospital systems continue to be heavily impacted by rising cases,” Wiesman said.
“It’s important we stay the course right now. We cannot let our guard down, even though it’s hard and we’re tired. We need people to mask up, stay home as much as possible and delay gatherings with anyone outside your home.”
Since restrictions first began, Wash. has provided billions in federal and state funds to assist small businesses and workers affected by the pandemic, according to the Medium. However, this $50 million will be strictly for businesses usage, as it comes from the Working Washington grants. Businesses meant to benefit from this care package include restaurants, gyms, venues and fitness centers.
“The needs among our small businesses are profound, and speed is of the essence,” Brown said. “This additional funding allows us to double the number of small businesses we can provide aid to, but we know it’s not enough. As we battle the toughest months of this pandemic, we need Congress to step up so we can support our businesses and workers as we continue asking them to do these hard things.”
Currently, Wash. roughly totals in 195,000 confirmed cases, with nearly 20,000 of those cases stemming from Pierce County alone, as reported by Google statistics. Despite this, Wash. ranks 15th in lowest number of cases in the United States, based on weekly case reports provided by the CDC’s official site.
Alongside this information, the Washington State Department of Health announced that since the release of WA-Notify, more than a million users have joined within 24 hours of its availability. Whether or not an app meant to help users stay on top of potential COVID exposures will help the curve in the long-run, remains to be seen.
Regular updates on COVID restrictions in Wash. are provided in full on Inslee’s official site. Quick updates on this story will continue to be uploaded here in the meantime.

Writen by, Lizbeth Martinez-Santos

Grocery stores in the Pierce and King County area have seen a spike in shoppers, with many aisles empty approaching the holidays. This follows Gov. Jay Inslee’s announcement Nov. 15, which would have state-wide restrictions on social gatherings taking place until Dec. 14.

In a matter of hours following the announcement, people began stockpiling groceries from store to store, buying food and supplies. One such store hit hard by panic-buyers includes Costco, as the store quickly sold out of items such as bottled water and toilet paper.

As reported by Kara Kostanich from Komo News, panic-buying across the region had grown worse within 24 hours of the announcement. “A small line formed outside Costco in Seattle’s SODO neighborhood,” Kostanich stated. “A drastic difference from Sunday when lines wrapped around Costco warehouses across Puget Sound.” At one point, Costco placed a white board outside their store which listed what they did and did not have in stock.

Shopping increased over the last two weeks, but not because of the holidays. Despite being around the corner, shoppers aren’t actually thinking of the holidays at all. Most shoppers are simply looking to have enough to eat this Thanksgiving week. According to an annual report conducted by the WSU Insider, 83% of shoppers do not plan to do any in-store shopping for Thanksgiving, while 77% said the same for Black Friday.

As stores like Costco or Winco continue to resupply during the uprise in buyers, shoppers could consider visiting other stores not hit as hard by shoppers, such as Target. As of Nov. 25, Target continues to have most of its supply in stock. El Jalapeño, a small business located on 1012 72nd St E in Tacoma, is another grocery store stocked with food and supplies, having in-store shopping for all customers.

Shoppers should look into attending smaller stores within their community if trying to avoid big crowds or a shortage in supply. Going to stores such as Fred Meyer and Target make good alternatives for places like Costco. More information will be available on this topic in the following weeks.

Statewide Restrictions for Washington Are Here

Washington State issues a statewide four-week restriction on social gatherings amidst rising COVID-19 cases, taking full effect following Monday, Nov. 15. These restrictions will carry through the upcoming holidays, including Thanksgiving, with a suspected end-date of Dec. 14. This announcement comes from Gov. Jay Inslee during a press conference held on Sunday.

Inslee spoke on a potential third wave of cases projected to hit Washington during the holidays, this being the restriction’s main motivator. “Inaction here is not an option,” Inslee said. “We have to take bold, decisive action and we are doing that today.”

“Average daily cases in [Washington] have doubled just in the last two weeks. It cannot go on like this. We have to get this under control, or our medical system will soon be overwhelmed.”

As reported by Google statistics, Washington has seen a sharp increase of confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 1,753 new cases being last reported on Monday alone. Washington state currently has 135,365 confirmed cases, with Pierce County making up 14,453 of these cases. This follows the increase of cases in Pierce County by 2,694 people since Nov. 2.

Source: www.governor.wa.gov An infographic of new cases in Washington State provided by Governor Jay Inslee

Monday’s new restrictions will primarily affect indoor gatherings and operations, as Inslee aims to limit the amount of in-person contact. K-12, higher education, child care, and court related proceedings will not be affected by new restrictions however, as stated by the Medium. Restaurants will also continue to provide take-out and delivery services as before.

Indoor gatherings have been prohibited, with gathering capacities being no more than five people at a time. Restaurants and bars will be closing indoor services as well, with religious gatherings, in-store retail and grocery stores limiting to 25% capacity. Fitness facilities and gyms will also close, alongside zoos, aquariums, bowling alleys, movie theaters and museums. 

For those looking to best prepare for upcoming restrictions, this week would be the week to get groceries and supplies. As these restrictions approach and certain facilities begin closing, shoppers have already begun stockpiling groceries and cleaning supplies, similarly to when restrictions were first introduced in March. Whatsmore, with Thanksgiving only a week away, there may be a potential shortage in groceries, as more places across the country report a rise in shoppers.

The Washington Emergency Management Division has since released a statement on Monday regarding the increase in shoppers this week. “We see the bare shelves in some places and recognize that some folks are panic buying,” the division states.

“Grocery stores are continuing to receive supplies like normal. The supply chains will remain strong as long as people only buy what they need. Don’t forget your mask and to maintain social distance in stores and please stay patient with hardworking employees, who are just trying to do their job.”

These restrictions will be here until Dec. 14. For more information on COVID-19 in Washington state and the current guidelines being placed by county, Inslee regularly reports any announcements on his personal site. Any further information and updates will be provided here until then.

Shelitia Pratt, Pierce College student and friend of George Floyd’s cousin, shares her thoughts and experience regarding racial injustices and the global pandemic.

I was born in Centreville, Illinois, and raised in Lovejoy, Illinois before I moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  I identify as African American, and recently I found out that through my father’s side I am multicultural – black, white, creole and native.  

The town that I grew up in was a settlement of African Americans escaping slavery; it later became the first black town in America to be incorporated and named after Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois in 1837.  

My morals and beliefs were embedded in me through my grandparents who raised me.  They taught me to love myself before I love someone else; be honest with others and myself; be loyal; trust no one; do my best at everything I do, and treat people how I want to be treated. They also taught me that hard work pays off; two wrongs don’t make a right; silence is golden, and every response doesn’t need a reaction.  I learned to abide and respect these things as I grew older and later taught these same things to my children.  

Today these guidelines, along with my life experiences and things I have seen, have supported making me who I am today.  I believe that what makes me unique is that my heart always looks out for the best interest of others, and I tend to often recognize my blessings because I give generously. This quarter, I gave a lot.

Being biracial myself, I have never completely “taken a side”.  However because of the one-drop-rule, I do know that I am African American and will always be looked at in this manner, because of the color of my skin. Black lives and every life has always mattered to me growing up.

These days I have been speechless, confused, depressed, and anxious back using my meds to support my anxiety along with increased blood pressure. My reaction to the injustice black Americans have recently faced is mind-blowing, but it does not surprise me at all. 

These injustices have been this way for hundreds of years and nothing has changed.  I have raised my children here in Puyallup, Washington and we all have faced injustice, discrimination, and racial profiling. 

Not all cops are bad and not all black people are criminals, but to wake up every day and know that because of my color I have to work harder than average and still get turned down opportunities, not because of my educational background, but because of the color of my skin; it breaks my soul and aches my heart, to the point that I continue to educate my children, siblings, and nephews.  

Black communities, and other communities, are in pain due to recent events and how things have continued to play out along with our President.  I am friends with George Floyd’s cousin and I’ve had to be a huge support for him, allowing him to vent to me on his feelings, and the family and him just needing a safe place to come to and get away from things. 

During the protesting, my friend got a call from his son’s friend in Bellevue. His son had been racially profiled and the police had his son and three of his biracial friends handcuffed on the curb. He saw his son on television while talking to me about the protest the night before that he and his family attended.  

I am not sure how the Pierce College community can help support those of us who are grieving the injustices that communities of color face. I personally have been just over it and have given up; I have never done that on my education or anything. I’m afraid every time my kids leave my home, and I call them more often because of it.

If someone has to be harassed or killed for being black, out of my children and family, I would rather it be me. I am aware that I should not feel this way, but it’s been a norm to live a life like this; from my hometown to here and across the world, this is the life of being black in the world.

My experiences during this pandemic and social unrest have been very hard to describe. Right now however, I am most concerned for my family. If things open too quickly in Phase Two, they may get sick. I am also concerned about whether my children and I will pass our online classes during this time. 

I have been attending Pierce College for the last three quarters taking classes to finish up getting my degree in human services, along with taking some CMST courses to better educate myself on some of the cultures that I work within my career field.

When I learned that Pierce College was going online, I was planning to withdraw because I am a hands-on learner and learn best being in a classroom. I freaked out a bit and asked my college student kids who have taken online classes what it would be like.  

I anticipated being frustrated often because I don’t navigate computers as well as I could. This online journey has been a struggle for me, as I anticipated it would be, but 10 times worse given how much of my time was devoted to serving others.

I realize this year has been especially hard on several families. At times, I wasn’t even aware of my own coming and going and just stress ate to the point where I gained over 10 pounds.

My household went from two people to six. My two college students came home from Canada and the other from Eastern Washington. I struggle with health issues myself, and fear for my daughter-in-law who works in an emergency room dealing with COVID-19 patients. I fear for my two-year-old granddaughter,  and for my daughter who has one kidney; all-the-while, I continued to fear every day that I could lose my salon business. It is important that I go to work to support my family and keep the business I built.

I was able to navigate through those challenges with lots of prayers; reaching out to my instructors, my supervisors, and my co-workers; and being honest to my building owners about what was truly going on in my life. If only they could have seen how regularly my eyes filled with tears and how constantly my voice cracked. Things constantly happened in my family.

I will do it all over again until I complete it to my satisfaction, but I will be glad when it’s over and I will continue to fight for injustice and peace.

See how canceling the 2020 season has affected the baseball program

In baseball, someone who fails 70 percent of the time is considered elite. Yet failing only 70 percent of the time calls for hundreds of hours dedicating yourself to the game. For all the time spent in the batting cage, on the field, and in the gym, you typically get three at-bats to show for it.
However, imagine having no chance to show off your hard work, and the opportunity to prove yourself is taken away. During the troubled times of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Pierce College Fort Steilacoom baseball program was deprived of one thing they loved most - baseball.
On March 17, the Northwest Athletic Conference announced the cancellation of the 2020 season for all spring sports programs. Pierce College Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson remained sympathetic to the student-athletes that he worked with.
“My initial reaction to the cancelation was a sense of devastation for our student-athletes,” he said. “Not just for this lost season, and this year’s training and preparation, but for the years of time and sacrifice they and their families have invested in getting to this point.”
According to Stevenson, over the last three decades as Pierce’s athletic director, he has never experienced anything like the COVID-19 Pandemic. The feeling of devastation extended to the program’s coaches and players. Yet, the program remained optimistic as the players began to plan for their futures and the next season.
“Within a day or two of the announcement of the decision, their spirits really turned around, especially as the enormous scope of the national and global situation became more apparent,” Stevenson said.
“They quickly switched gears from being frustrated about the lost season, to making plans for spring quarter classes and looking at options for next year. I am really proud of how resilient they have been through all of this.”
As announced online by the Northwest Athletic Conference, freshman and sophomores enrolled during the 2020 season would remain the same grade athletically for the next season. This would apply to all athletes regardless of the number of games played during the spring season.
Moreover, the sophomores have a big decision to make on where they will play during the 2020 season. Stevenson realized that the baseball program will never get this season back. “For some, this will be the end of their competitive careers,” he said. “As an athlete, you want to go out on your own terms –in the arena of competition. For those that return next year or move on to play at a four-year college [or] university, this will always be their lost season; It is really heart-breaking.”
Pierce’s baseball coach, Kevin Davis, was also crushed by the cancellation of the 2020 season. He knew what this season meant to the sophomores, as he was once in their shoes after finishing his sophomore baseball season at Bellevue College.

“I feel for the sophomores who worked their whole life for this and don't have anything to show for it,” he said. “I also feel for the freshmen who got their first chance at college ball and had that taken away.”
The NWAC was not the first conference to cancel the season, according to Davis. The decision to cancel the 2020 season followed similar decisions by four-year universities in the NCAA. Tournaments such as the NCAA College Baseball World Series and NCAA Basketball were canceled ahead of the NWAC’s decision in March.
Since the spring season ended, the program’s players have kept in touch and continue to train on their own time. “They have been doing home workouts, playing catch together when they can, and we have weekly zoom sessions to goof around and keep in touch,” Davis said.
The team now endures a long offseason where they plan to start their fall season as planned. Next season, they will have the possibility to have a first-ever season with three classes of players. This would include incoming freshman, returning freshman, and third-year sophomores.
Riley Paulino, a freshman pitcher who plans to return for next season, was let down by the cancelation and empathized with his sophomore teammates. “I was very disappointed because I felt that we had a really good group of guys all pulling towards one goal,” he said. “I also felt for the sophomores because, for some, this marked the end of their careers. It hurt me to witness their last season go down like that.”
Even though the rest of the spring 2020 season was canceled, the team was able to play 12 games out of the 45-game season. Paulino, who led the team in strikeouts, said his teammates were what made the short season and preparation worth it.
“My favorite part of this last season has to be the countless hours that I have spent grinding day in and day out with this group of guys,” Paulino said. “There is nothing like having 30 guys you know would run through a wall for you. This makes us push each other harder because we truly care about the success of each other.”

Hunter Bungert/ Photo Illustration

Cody Russell, a sophomore shortstop who is continuing his playing career at Washington State University, is only one of a few sophomores who knows where they are playing next season. According to Russell, he received the news of the canceled season during a meeting with this team.
“At first I was really shocked,” Russell said. “I didn’t really think it was true. It probably took me a week for it to click in; I’m not going to be completing my sophomore season up here.”
Since Russell has a sense of direction to work towards, he started his off-season early in preparations for his jump to division one baseball. But with no facilities and teams to practice with, it has been difficult to train for the next step in his career.
“It’s tough; we don't really have gyms right now,” he said. “So, we've got a little setup in our garage; my brother and I are lifting almost every day, hitting at the cages, playing long toss, and running. Just all the normal things that you can try and do without having a school gym or whatever we had before this whole thing happened.”
Additionally, Russell will be joining his brother at WSU, who is a freshman. He looks forward to the opportunity to play at the highest level with his brother. “I’m playing with my brother, what else could I really ask for?” he said. “It’s D1 baseball with your brother; It’s kind of a dream come true for both of us. I’m pumped, I can’t wait to get down there, get rolling and get with the team.”
With his junior college career at an end, Russell embarked on what he will remember most about playing for Pierce. “The grind, the attitude, and the culture that coach Davis built around the team was the coolest thing,” he said. “It was crazy how last year it was two different teams. This year it was like we were brothers, everyone was so close, hung out almost every day; everyone had classes with each other. The energy that the team brought was so different, I think that would have taken us a lot farther than last year.”
According to Russell, the majority of sophomores remain unsure about the next step in their baseball journey. Yet, the team continues to express optimism in the pursuit to play baseball for a four-year university. Only time will tell where they will end up and how the program rebounds from a canceled season.
With no way of making up the canceled season, the program endures a long off season to improve individually. COVID-19 guidelines make it hard to train as a team and each player’s commitment will be tested in preparation for the fall season. Even with a pandemic limiting the access to facilities and players, it won’t stop the program from striving to challenge themselves everyday. The program's sense of resilience will push them through quarantine and prepare for another season as a Pierce College Raider.

Struggles of Taking Virtual Classes – Part 3

Especially for international students who are taking online classes from their home countries, a lot of struggles might have been shown up in spring quarter. One of the students that I interview, she was going to college in NYC. However, since her college dorm was closed due to Coronavirus, there were no option except going back to Japan. She shares how difficult to take virtual classes from her home country.

Videographer: Kotone Ochiai

Editor: Kotone Ochiai

Future Image: Ciara William

 

Video by Carlos Arribas from Pexels

Video by Ekaterina Bolovtsova from Pexels

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