Safely spending time with friends: winter edition

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Courtesy of Katie Wallace

Freshmen Katie Wallace and Cora Tiemeier spend a windy day outside at O’Day Park in O’Fallon, Mo. Nov. 15. Wallace has been spending time with her friends outside and masked, finding new activities and rediscovering old ones. “When I went to have a picnic with my friend, we went on the playground too, even though we’re in high school. Just think outside of the box,” Wallace said.

With December approaching, dropping temperatures are posing a new challenge to students who are having socially distant get-togethers with their friends.

Rain, cold fronts and temperatures falling well into the thirties over the past few weeks have made planning outdoor time with friends more of a challenge. However, students have been making use of both outdoor and virtual resources to connect in spite of the chillier temperatures.

 “We’ve been going on runs. It’s a good way to be outside so it’s less risk. Just work out and spend time together. We’ve also gone on walks. A few weeks ago we had plans to go outside, but it was just too cold. We just opted to do something online. We did FaceTime and Netflix Party,” junior Marissa Liu said.

Sophomore Isaac Porter is also taking advantage of these online platforms, talking to his friends on the phone and in group chats to remain connected.

“We’ll play some games together. We can just spend time with each other. It has helped me stay close to my friends, maybe even become closer, but it has been a challenge. Most of my friends are pretty serious about COVID-19 so we haven’t really been getting together too much,” Porter said.

Freshman Katie Wallace’s approach to spending time together differs from Porter’s, spending time with her friends face-to-face, masked and outdoors.

Definitely think outside of the box and prioritize safety; be as creative as possible. Think of the community when you’re thinking of what you can do with your friends.”

— Katie Wallace

“On Halloween, we had a fire pit so that we could be outside. With one of my friends, I just had a picnic with her at the park. I’m just going outside as much as possible. There was a little difficulty with the cold, but we just put on layers,” Wallace said.

While the weather has not changed much about the way Wallace spends time with her friends, precautionary measures regarding the coronavirus have. As of Nov. 23, St. Louis County health guidelines require face coverings in public locations both indoors and outdoors for those over the age of five, with some exceptions for those with health conditions and athletes who are outdoors. The order requiring face coverings also strongly recommends face coverings for those between the ages of three and five. 

“Now, I have to think about which friends I want to hang out with. Most of my friends are pretty safe, but I just think about who they’ve maybe been hanging around and how safe they’ve been before I hang out with them, as well as wearing masks,” Wallace said, “Sometimes it’s harder to hear people, too. It’s just more difficult to have conversations.”

Although Wallace’s time with friends has been different because of COVID-19, she says spending time with them has been beneficial through isolation.

“At the beginning of isolation, I didn’t hang out with friends much, so when I started to hang out with friends it just gave me an opportunity to get out and change up my routine a little bit and get some social interaction,” Wallace said. “It was awkward for a little bit because it had been so long, but quickly we adapted to the situation.” 

Liu, Porter and Wallace have similar advice for their peers.

“Definitely think outside of the box and prioritize safety; be as creative as possible,” Wallace said. “Think of the community when you’re thinking of what you can do with your friends.”