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The Epidemic of 42 Norwood Avenue: The Kent Plague

By: Geo Thatch

As you may have noticed in the past few weeks, it seems that everyone around us is sick. Constant sniffling, coughing, and lost voices have spread throughout campus. This has caused much concern, following the COVID-19 pandemic when a cough could lock you away for two weeks. So what is happening at Kent Place? Is it an outbreak of COVID, or just a dramatic cold? Surprisingly, little to none of the cases of sickness in our school have been related to COVID-19, but rather one of four other possibilities: Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Influenza, the common cold, and allergies.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) includes symptoms such as a runny nose, loss of appetite, cough, sneezing, fever, and wheezing. It is a virus that is transmitted through droplets and surfaces, meaning it can be transmitted just by a conversation with someone infected. You are contagious for around 3-8 days and can spread the virus before becoming symptomatic.

Influenza (the flu) includes symptoms such as a fever, a cough, a sore throat, a runny or stuffy nose, muscle or body aches, headaches, and fatigue. Many of these symptoms overlap with RSV, and the spread of the virus is the same as well. The flu is most contagious for 3-4 days after symptoms begin, but you may still be contagious both before and after this window.

A cold is something everyone has experienced, and while not pleasant, it is survivable. Mildly annoying symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, a sore throat, a cough, congestion, slight body aches, a mild headache, sneezing, or a low-grade fever (99-100°F), most of which could last potentially months with no cure. Lastly, the final illness to plague Kent Place is just allergies. Changing seasons and temperatures can trigger different reactions in different people, especially when it’s 75°F in November.

With so many viruses spreading, many students have missed numerous days of school, right as the last week of the trimester, commonly referred to as “Hell week” among students, is approaching. Tests, quizzes, and projects to make up don’t help the recovery process, even when chugging water and Tylenol. Many students are currently struggling to catch up on last week's work, while teachers continue to assign work for the upcoming week and a half to “bring up” student’s grades from earlier in the trimester. However, this may be doing more harm than good while students lay in bed with a fever of 103, still attempting to finish the classwork they missed.

In the midst of this, Kent Place’s “Chicago” is set to open November 11, but many students' illnesses are getting in the way of rehearsal during the final stretch before the musical. Cast and crew are out sick with what is known as the most stressful time-crunched week of the year. Personally, I could say that a sore throat does not improve my singing voice, but I am sure the cast of Chicago will find a way to pull through despite the epidemic of 42 Norwood Avenue.

To all those struggling with RSV, the flu, a cold, or any other sickness, we wish you a speedy recovery and easy studying for those final moments of the trimester.


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