Reflecting on a Year of Quarantine

I think we can all agree that this past year has been most unprecedented. Zoom went from being an unknown application to the main dominator of our days. It’s honestly crazy to think how quickly things have changed. Throughout the turmoil, TSA has been quick to adapt. In honor of the one year anniversary of being in quarantine, I thought I’d take a moment and reflect on some of the positives to come out of this situation in respect to TSA. This is in no means meant to overshadow the lives that have been lost and the negative impacts of the virus, however I am a firm believer that you should always look for positives in an otherwise negative situation.

 

One of the biggest impacts COVID-19 has had on TSA is the cancellation of conferences. Last year, when the virus first hit, we had no choice but to cancel the conferences. At the time, we did not have the infrastructure set up to be able to hold successful virtual conferences. This past year, however, both National and Pennsylvania TSA have been hard at work coming up with ingenious ways to hold conferences virtually. This situation has forced us to explore new areas of technology that we can potentially use for years to come.

 

A major hurdle we’ve had to overcome is how to handle event selection. At past state conferences, we’ve had over 2,000 competitors, each of whom competes in several events. If you do some quick math… you’ll realize that that’s a lot of projects to get submitted! Thankfully, we have an amazing team of BOD and alumni members who have been hard at work crafting a digital event submission system capable of handling such an influx of events. The best part is, we could potentially use this technology for years to come— even at in-person conferences!

 

The pandemic has also affected TSA at the chapter level. With some schools moving to fully virtual or hybrid formats, many chapters have been unable to meet in person, making it difficult for them to stay connected. For example, in past years, my chapter would have meetings after school and hold several fundraisers. This year, however, we had to shift most of our activities to a virtual setting. When met with this daunting task, our chapter officer team utilized Zoom, Discord, and asynchronous fundraisers such as a clothing drive and Gertrude Hawk Chocolate sale. We anticipate continuing these activities for years to come.

 

In the coming months, as the world starts shifting back to “normal”, we will certainly never forget this season. From whipped coffee to cloud bread, hundreds of Zoom meetings to long walks in the park, these memories will be ingrained in our minds forever. As we get closer to the state conference, remember to keep an open mind. Although the conference may not be what any of us pictured this time last year, it’s still shaping up to be an engaging and exciting experience. We are excited to push the boundaries of what is possible in a virtual setting, and make this year the best that it can be!

 

 If you have any questions, feel free to email me at reporter [at] patsa.org. I look forward to (virtually) seeing you all at states!