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The Spill: An Irish Day

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A Quiet St. Patrick’s Day

Tuesday, March 17, marked the Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday is normally celebrated with public parades and parties, but this year’s events were limited because of the Coronavirus. Some of the largest events in the U.S., such as the Boston, Chicago, and New York parades, were canceled. People could still get together in smaller groups and, of course, wear the color of the holiday – green.

But who was St. Patrick anyway, and why is he celebrated on Ireland’s national day? The short version of the story is that St. Patrick drove the snakes out of Ireland. The country doesn’t have any snakes today, and the legend says that St. Patrick once chased the reptiles into the sea, banishing them from the land forever.

St. Patrick was born in Britain during the 4th Century, before being captured and sold as a slave in Ireland. After being forced to work as a shepherd for six years, he escaped back to Britain and began work as a Christian cleric. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary and worked to convert the country to Christianity.

Closing Borders to Stop Virus

Many nations across the globe are making stricter border controls to slow the spread of the virus. Some countries are limiting travel only from Coronavirus hotspots such as China, Iran, and Italy, while others are looking at broader bans.

On March 11, President Donald Trump announced that he would stop travel to the U.S. from Europe for 30 days. U.S. citizens will still be able to travel home. A few days later, Europe did the same thing, banning travel to the continent for at least 30 days. “The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Canada has also closed its borders to travelers. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation, and his wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, has been diagnosed with COVID-19. On March 16, Trudeau announced that all travel from outside Canada would be limited. It was first planned to keep the land border with the United States open, but the two countries have now agreed to close it for non-essential travel.

Some other countries that have temporarily banned entry to foreign nationals include El Salvador, Israel, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, and India.

School Canceled over COVID-19

Public places around the U.S. are closing to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. Restaurants, tourist attractions, and schools are some of the places that are shutting their doors.

According to US News, more than half of young people in the U.S. have had school canceled to slow the spread of the virus. Governors have ordered schools to close in 33 states across the country. In other states, just a few districts have decided to close schools.

Some students can take online classes instead. Chemistry teacher Randy Huybers has been giving online lessons to students from his empty classroom at Woodinville High School. “I was very anxious (at first) but I was amazed at the kids’ responses and how human it felt to interact with them through the screen,” Huybers said.

But not all young people across the country have the internet at home, and some people are worried that kids who can’t do online classes may fall behind. “If we can’t provide that online learning for all of our students … it’s not fair to do it for some students,” said Tim Robinson, a spokesman for the Seattle school district.

President Trump has encouraged parents to give home-schooling a try, and many parents are coming up with ways to keep education going at home.

Kim Sweet from the group Advocates for Children of New York, said, “It will be important for schools to make extra effort to ensure that remote learning benefits all students.”

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