This week, as town government, schools, and businesses have shuttered, Harvard has come to life in the virtual worlds of social media and remote conferencing. Churches are delivering services over the internet. Town committees are meeting again, following protocols radically altered by the constraints of videoconferencing software. And here at the Press, we find ourselves dependent, ironically, on the virtual tools of digital publishing to deliver our print edition to subscribers.
Virtual worlds will never replace a surprise encounter with a neighbor at the General Store, a conversation with a fisherman at the beach on a spring morning, or the fellowship of a live service at a local church. But for now, our virtual spaces will have to do.
We’re separated for three very good reasons: to halt the spread of an aggressive virus that has invaded our community; to slow a surge of illness that threatens to overwhelm doctors and nurses at nearby hospitals; and to protect the health of the most vulnerable among our friends and neighbors.
Experts tell us that social distancing will succeed in halting the spread of COVID-19, but only if we adhere to its protocols. Those require us to separate—but not to isolate. The outdoors beckons, and new tools are helping us stay in touch.
We’ll get through this—separated, but together in spirit and purpose.