The Ripcurrent: Schools Reopen, Fires Ravage West, Refugee Camp Destroyed

Reopening Schools: What this means for NY

This week, schools across the state reopened for the 2020-2021 school year. A variety of hybrid plans were put into use to make the transition back as safe and sanitary as possible for students, teachers and administrators. Regardless of how many days students spend in school, several mandatory rules have been established, including wearing masks, sitting or walking six feet apart, and the minimization of class sizes.

Many people were skeptical reopening schools, but advocates point out that children receive lots of benefits from educational environments: social skills are developed, as well as emotional and physical well being. Many children also rely on school for a safe space to be in, or for nutritional needs through a free school lunch. And of course, educational instruction is hard to replicate if a student is at home, doing online class.

All we can do is stay safe, follow guidelines, keep our distance, and wear a mask.

-Amy Whitman

Wildfires Consume Northwest

Skies turned ashy as fires moved away and air quality worsened 

Unrestrained wildfires ripped across Northern California, Oregon, and Southern Washington this week, razing towns and displacing thousands. The unprecedented blaze was aggravated by high winds and dry weather, creating a nearly impossible situation for firefighters. Wind reached 20 mph, toppling trees and spreading the fires at astonishing speeds. Over 900,000 acres have been destroyed in Oregon alone, and over 3 million acres have been destroyed in California this year, both setting state records. Thick smoke turned the sky orange and hampered visibility for pilots trying to contain the fire. Firefighting headquarters were burned down, incinerating precious equipment, and over 40,000 Oregonians have been evacuated. “It’s just so eerie,” an eyewitness told The Current. She had evacuated voluntarily as fires neared her home last week. Others have resisted necessary evacuation measures, due to false rumors about antifa groups setting  fires, as well as the additional danger of contracting COVID-19. Thirty-three people have died so far from the fires, and many more reported missing. Although increasing humidity and calmer winds are subduing the fires, air quality is still a major problem, with Portland listed as the worst air quality in the entire world.

-Viviane Kim
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Devastating Fire at Greek Refugee Camp

Moria, Europe’s largest refugee camp, burned to the ground this week. Located in Lesbos, Greece, the camp housed refugees from around the world, particularly from Afghanistan. It was horribly overcrowded and unhygienic. Although the maximum capacity was 2,200, about 13,000 people called the squalid camp home. Greece’s government alleged that the fires were started by refugees who were unhappy with lock down and quarantine conditions after 35 people tested positive for coronavirus. Following the devastating fire, residents of the camp were left on the streets with few resources.

A new camp began construction for those displaced by the fire. In order to enter, they must undergo extensive COVID-19 testing to make sure no one else gets infected. The Greek government believes that residents of Moria may have been trying to use the fires to get off the island and onto the mainland, with officials saying “we will not be blackmailed.” Riot police have been sent to assist the now homeless and bring them to safe spaces on the island or the new refugee camp.

-Abbie Blake

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Abbie Blake

Abbie, a junior, writes for The Ripcurrent and News columns. An aspiring journalist, she loves coming up with different ideas and then writing about them. She also enjoys painting and stage crew.

Viviane E. Kim

Viviane, a sophomore, is Editor-in-Chief of The Current. She's an aspiring pianist, flutist, artist, and activist. She has won several writing competitions and performed with the SBU Orchestra.

Amy Whitman

Amy is The Current’s Multimedia lead. A junior, she contributes to our podcast and News column. She loves writing, reading, sports, and film, and plans to major in journalism and political science.

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