COVID-19 Reminiscent Of 1918 Influenza Pandemic

Osmar Lopez, Staff Writer

Now that we have reached the end of a truly bizarre school year, all we can do is look back and reminisce. One comparison repeatedly made to this pandemic was the 1918 influenza pandemic.

The 1918 influenza pandemic was one of the most severe pandemics in recent history and was transmitted originally from swine. And according to the World Health Organization the Covid-19 virus was transmitted from bats in China.

“I had heard of the 1918 pandemic and how it was the only other time in modern history that is anything like what we are dealing with,” said freshman Christian Lopez. “But I still don’t know much about it or if it is even fair to compare the two pandemics with us having many advantages these days that were not available in 1918.”

In the pandemic from more than 102 years ago, students spent most of the school year in distance learning, but with students in 1918 the lack of personal computers and technology certainly would be a problem.

And just like in 2020, schools were closed in 1918 as a response to the virus. Of course we do have to remember that schools didn’t work the same as they do these days.

About half of the student population in 1918 were attending rural schools that commonly had students of different ages in a single classroom. Children would also attend school up to the eighth grade with some students staying in school to help younger students or to become teachers.

And if you look back at pictures taken during the 1918 pandemic you’ll see people wearing masks. And just like today masks were mandatory but only in certain cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Oakland, Sacramento, Denver, Indianapolis, and Pasadena. In San Francisco you would even be fined five dollars for not wearing a mask.

During our current pandemic schools were very well regulated, but in 1918 they weren’t as much — specifically in rural schools. And due to the fact that technology allows for communication between teachers and their students was not available and schoolwork would be sent to the homes.

This lack of work would give students time to do chores at home or go to work in factories, farms, or as newspaper deliverers. The only way children could pursue learning was to independently use popular learning toys like the speller board.

While schoolwork was almost nonexistent in 1918, students presently are still having an influx of school work. And for many students this year it could be difficult to deal with.

“I had decided to go back to school the first chance I got,” said Lopez. “It felt like I was getting so much school work without the benefits of being in person.”

And for some students it seems to be much more of an easier time and less of a problem to get through.

“It gave me a chance to do things that I enjoy doing,” said junior Valerie Carrillo. “Rather than worrying about the next assignment that’s due. I also got to spend more time with my family, which I always think is good.”

And for teachers in 1918 with the lack of communication, there was no way to make sure your students were doing work or being productive. And while for teachers these days it can seem like that when their students don’t turn on their cameras at the very least teachers know precisely when students aren’t doing their homework.

“Everything online is time stamped and we know exactly when we create something and turn it in,” said Spanish teacher Ms. Adler. “Students who have had to become responsible for their learning. If they log in and walk away from their device the responsibility lies 100 percent on the student for learning or not learning.”

The 1918 Pandemic would end by the summer of 1919 when those who were infected developed immunities and those that didn’t would die. At it’s peak the Pandemic took the lives of one third of the world’s population.