Tim Whyte | Big Wednesday and the Dominoes that Followed

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By Tim Whyte

Signal Editor 

Wednesday just felt like THE day. 

I’m not trying to take credit for any special newsman’s instinct. But it was palpable. As Wednesday progressed, you could see the chain reaction happening before your eyes, email after email, broadcast after broadcast, sometimes just minutes apart. 

After weeks of buildup and speculation, critical mass was reached, and the coronavirus’ impact on our daily lives made itself felt like it had not yet done. 

The dominoes started falling late Wednesday morning. 

In addition to my day job as editor of The Signal, I am a part-time faculty member in the Journalism Department at Cal State Northridge. This semester, I’m teaching a sports journalism class, and the faculty members and university have been swapping emails for the past couple of weeks about making the just-in-case plans to conduct classes online if it should become necessary. 

It became necessary Wednesday morning. 

Just the day before, I’d talked to the students in class and assured them we would adjust assignments and work together online to get through the semester should the switch happen. It’s a sports class, so we were already anticipating that some of the events the students were assigned to cover might be played with no audience, or might be rescheduled, or canceled altogether. 

My niece’s university in Orange County did the same thing CSUN did, switching to online instruction. Moments after I found out about the CSUN cancellation of in-person classes at least until April 20, I found out my daughter’s school, Washington State University, pulled the same trigger. 

Kids. You worry about them. You worry more when they are 1,100 miles away. There’s a helplessness about that. 

So yes, I worry.

As of Wednesday my son’s university in Oklahoma hadn’t pulled that trigger. Because Oklahoma. They’re a rugged, obstinate bunch. But just up Interstate 35 in Oklahoma City, later that day, would be the epicenter of a shutdown that stopped the sports world in its tracks, as the NBA suspended its season, starting with a game that was to match the OKC Thunder with the Utah Jazz. 

By Thursday, the University of Oklahoma pulled the trigger, too, switching to online classes. So now everyone in my family who is associated with a university — me, my daughter, my son, my niece and my nephew — is doing it online-only.

Here at home, it was one after the other, too. California Institute of the Arts announced on Big Wednesday that it also would go online. College of the Canyons followed suit a day later.

Then the business community, government and other organizations started announcing their own cancellations and closures. Chamber of Commerce events, fundraisers, sports, even Disneyland — you name it.

And there’s the upshot: Even if you never contract the coronavirus — and I dearly hope you don’t — it is going to impact your life in profound ways, from school to work to life in general. What will the next weeks and months bring? Hopefully Big Wednesday was a good start toward mitigating this thing.

Meanwhile, I’m still looking for a stockpile of rubbing alcohol and aloe so I can finally make a batch of homemade hand sanitizer.

Tim Whyte is editor of The Signal. His column appears Sundays. 

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