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     I was diagnosed with the common respiratory condition of asthma in first grade. At first, it was not a problem, my asthma was well controlled and I never had flare-ups, but around third grade, a pattern developed. At least once a month, I had to be rushed to the emergency room because I had an asthma attack that almost took my life. 

     I saw dozens of doctors and respiratory therapists that tried to find a reason for my flare-ups, but to this day, I have no answer. I was admitted to the hospital so often that the nursing staff at Riley Hospital knew me very well.  

     Since the pattern developed, I was not allowed to do a lot of activities such as play sports or fully participate in gym class, until about seventh grade. By then, my asthma was starting to control itself, and, by my sophomore year, I was able to join show choir. 

     I was in Spirit my sophomore year, Hi-Lites my junior year and I started my senior year off in Connection, but due to health concerns, I was unable to continue participating this year.

     I am an all virtual student, which was recommended by my pulmonologist, and it has not been easy for me to complete many of my assignments. The assignments itself are easy, but my mindset has completely shifted since the school year started. 

     The fear my parents and doctors had of me catching COVID-19 and it sending me back into that tiring cycle has deeply affected my mental health, productivity and overall well-being, resulting in the loss of motivation to do a lot of the things I enjoyed doing. There is a serious threat of my life being taken if I were to get COVID-19. 

     I am sure other students, especially this year's seniors, are finding themselves with similar feelings, because realistically, this may be our new norm. The impact COVID-19 has made on me may be much different from the impact it has had on you, but it is important to see and understand the struggles others are facing during this time. The year did not turn out the way many of us expected, but we still need to do everything that is possible to stop the spread of the virus to protect ourselves and those around us.

     COVID-19 should not be seen as a controversial subject, and it’s important to educate ourselves on why it is important to follow the schools and state guidelines presented by the CDC. Even if you are someone that is seen to be at a lower risk, you still have to follow these guidelines because you can get it and be asymptomatic and pass it onto others. 

     Doing simple things such as washing hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water, wearing masks in public while changing them every few hours or if damp, and maintaining six feet apart between you and your peers can help stop the quick spread of COVID-19 and we might see a change. 

     There are still so many unanswered questions about COVID-19, and choosing to complain and not wear a mask is not the way to overcome these troubling times. Understand that there are people who are deeply affected by these recent events, and we can only have hope of a more sociable future if we abide by the guidelines and safety procedures that are provided by the CDC and WHO.