Past FCCPS students experience COVID-19 around the world

Kaylah Curley, Staff Reporter

view from plane window
Several former FCCPS students have moved to different places around the globe during the pandemic. They all are having different experiences dealing with the effects of the pandemic (Graphic by Matthew Lin).

As the COVID-19 numbers in the United States plateau, other countries are experiencing different challenges.  With so many foreign service kids moving in and out of the Falls Church City Public Schools, we have unique “windows on the world” to look into the COVID-19 progress and challenges of a few countries where our friends and former FCCPS students now live. 

Nellie Rodriguez Stewart moved from Falls Church to Tel Aviv, Israel, with her family last year. With a population of 9 million,  Israel has managed, so far to contain COVID-19.

“COVID is basically done here,” Stewart said. “We do not need to wear masks outdoors but we are required to wear a mask indoors. As a precaution, schools remained online for 70 percent of the school year, but they have recently returned to hybrid.”

Anya Grueneweld moved from Falls Church to Manila, Philippines, with her family last year. With its population density and multigenerational family households, the Philippines face COVID-19 challenges. The living conditions of most expats living in the country are more favorable. 

“COVID here isn’t too bad, in my social circle at least,” Grueneweld said.

The International School in Manila (ISM) has remained online all year. In order for schools to reopen,  they must get permission from the government of the Philippines, and so far they have not been able to. COVID-19 restrictions in the country fluctuate depending on the amount of COVID cases in the country. 

“One of the restrictions was a curfew that was set into place and minors were not allowed to leave their houses at all,” Grueneweld said. 

Alanis Martinez Nieves moved from Falls Church to Guangzhou, China, last year. She reported that, while China has handled COVID-19 relatively well, everyone still has to wear masks in public places. In Guangzhou, there haven’t been more than a handful of infections since last May. The Chinese government also mandated everyone has an app monitoring COVID-19 test results.

“Everyone living in China needs to have a suikang code [which is a Guangzhou health code] on their phone in the WeChat app,” Martinez Nieves said. “The app tracks when they last had a COVID test and whether it was positive or negative.” 

Bella Fazio moved from Falls Church to New Delhi, India, with her family in December 2020. India is currently in the epicenter of the global pandemic, with the country struggling to treat everyone and the healthcare system on the brink of collapse. 

“COVID is really bad right now,” Fazio said. “As you have probably seen on the news people are dying due to lack of oxygen and hospital beds. The Indian government has placed restrictions on essentially everything.” 

The Indian government refrains from calling these restrictions a full lockdown due to not wanting to cause a frenzy or any economic issues. India is in the early stages of its vaccine rollout. However, there is not enough vaccine supply for everyone.

Recently, the United States Embassy in New Delhi authorized the departure of some diplomats for their safety.  The American Embassy School, which Fazio attends, announced that they will not return back to in-person classes for the rest of the year.