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SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECTDuring this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a...
05/27/2020

SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECT

During this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a 1 minute segment about how COVID-19 is affecting an aspect of their lives.

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COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER IN REGION-WIDE RAINBOW HUNT

By Skylar Eagle

The coronavirus pandemic has kept millions of New York state residents home from work, school and college since early March. Communities are struggling to find ways to keep connected with each other remotely. Members of the 518 area code came together to create a rainbow hunt for school-aged children across the Capital Region and beyond.

The rainbow hunt encourages families with kids to take a walk around their local communities and try to spot rainbows around neighboring houses and businesses.

The campaign #518RainbowHunt was created with a Facebook group on Mar. 18. Over time, the group has grown to have more than 114,000 members from the 518 area code region and beyond. The 518 area code covers 17 counties in New York including Schenectady, Albany and Saratoga.

Haley Kastler is a student at Pace University who decided to participate in the rainbow hunt with her little sister Maya.

“The 518 rainbow hunt is a really nice way for everyone to stay positive during this time so whatever way you want to do it, you put up a rainbow so that when people walk by they can hunt for rainbows either in their cars or on walks when they’re trying to stay physical during this time,” Kastler said.

Kastler said the idea to participate came from Maya’s teacher as a way to stay creative and get involved in something outside of her home while school is held remotely.

She also said the rainbow hunt has made a difference in how communities are handling the coronavirus.

“When we take our walks down in the neighborhood it’s the first thing that she does, she looks in all the windows and sees all the rainbows and it makes her happy and she smiles and it makes me smile too,” Kastler said.

Becca PrimDenburgh and Erin Elizabeth also participated in the rainbow hunt with their two children.

“I thought it was super cute at first. When I first joined there were only 1,000 people in it and I thought it would be a fun thing to do,” PrimDenburgh said, “It’s so nice to see that people are actually participating and doing something to come together.”

PrimDenburgh also said she thinks everyone should try to participate in the rainbow hunt because it gives everyone something to do.

“If you’re feeling lost and aimless because you’re so secluded, the fact that now I can go look for these rainbows and feel connected to the people that have them up, it’s nice to see that kind of stuff and it does give you something to look forward to,” PrimDenburgh said.

Members of the Facebook group won’t stop sharing rainbows anytime soon. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo extended New York on PAUSE regulations until June 13 which directs residents of the state to stay at home and avoid all non-essential travel. The Capital Region has not yet met the requirements to begin phase one of reopening, but several regions in the state have including: the Finger Lakes, Southern Tier, Mohawk Valley, North Country and Central New York.

Kastler, PrimDenburgh and Elizabeth said they would participate in another hunt to help keep communities connected during the stay at home order.

05/26/2020

SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECT

During this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a 1 minute segment about how COVID-19 is affecting an aspect of their lives.

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College students and COVID-19: How the pandemic has affected young people

By Ashleigh Garrison

A few days before spring break, Madison Watters learned that her college, George Washington University, would be transitioning to online classes for the rest of the semester.

She remembers the university disabling key card access for students after telling them to move out of their dorms. Like many other students, she returned to campus to pack her belongings. Then, she moved into a hotel with a few other students before transitioning to a friend’s house. She’s since spent time helping her dad with his unemployment, along with trying to manage her own finances.

“I tried filing for unemployment but the D.C. website is just literally not letting me,” Watters said. “I am, like, in charge essentially of my dad’s unemployment claims because he can’t work technology, um, so he calls me really often to check on his status and everything. So, I have to worry about his finances as well as my own.”

In March, thousands of other college students across the United States packed up their dorms and headed home. For many, abruptly leaving campus and transitioning to remote learning came with other stressors — like financial insecurity or unstable home situations. Students talked with CBS about everything from the emotional impact of leaving campus to how they’re coping.

Online courses

While Watters said that many professors adjusted their expectations in light of COVID-19, she still finds that many of her classmates aren’t putting in as much effort. Usually, Watters said she is focused on getting As on her assignments. Now, there are other things to worry about.
Watters said she isn’t too concerned about her mental health, but that she is concerned about her finances, along with the ​physical​ health of her mom, who works at the front desk of a doctor’s office.

“Just to expect college students to completely change how they’re living... to be able to sit down in the middle of a literal crisis with uncertainty about housing and income and expect them to talk about philosophy and write a paper on things and get a grade -- it’s ... absurd,” Watters said.

Lakshmi Meyyappan, a sophomore studying public health at the University of Michigan, said college courses helped to provide her days with some structure. Her days as a college student in quarantine looked pretty similar, she said, and usually included physical activity in the morning, followed by class and homework time.

Though her university is allowing students to mask their letter grades, Meyyappan said she was still trying her best, because many of her classes are prerequisites for medical school. Still, she said she noticed a decrease in motivation in people around her — and she understands why.

“I just think it’s ok to not be at the level that you were when you’re in college or in school,” Meyyappan said. “That’s very acceptable in my opinion because just with these big changes, it’s hard to keep everything the same.”

Karma Karira, also a sophomore at the University of Michigan, said she noticed her own effort decrease a bit after classes went online. Though she said her professors were helpful in the transition, it still wasn’t the same.

“Some of my motivation was just having that in person connection with my professor, or just asking questions or, you know, learning from my peers. And that’s definitely lost...The innate effort has been kind of lost but I’ve been trying to put in more effort mindfully,” Karira said.

For Tajrean Rahman, balancing online courses with responsibilities of home life, along with the worries caused by COVID-19 proved challenging. Rahman, a graduating senior and first-generation student at Harvard University, said that while removing letter grades did ease pressure, focusing on school work during this pandemic was difficult.

While quarantining in New York, her responsibilities included helping her younger siblings with their homework, making calls for family members applying for unemployment and also searching for her own job.

“Right now, you are in school for the joy of learning,” she said. “And that does kind of release some pressure, but at the same time with the pandemic happening, it’s not like ‘Oh, yay! I get to learn about cell biology for the fun of it.’ It’s very much like, ‘Oh, I'm going to be trying to focus on this pset, But also I am hearing the ambulance outside my window every 15 minutes, and I am getting stressed and worried.’”

Mental health and COVID-19

Spending more time at home has actually been beneficial for the wellbeing of Isabella Barnes, a sophomore at Columbia University. Barnes said that for her, strong mental health is all about peace. She actively prioritizes things like staying active, eating well and being clean to maintain her mental health.

“I'm really trying to take things one day at a time and that’s been my coping strategy,” Barnes said. “Within that, I've been journaling a bit. I've been painting much more often than I usually do. I go outside...I take time to really appreciate what’s around me.”

While Barnes said the first two weeks of online learning were challenging, she learned to embrace it as the new normal and found ways to take breaks from the computer screen. She’s also gained a greater sense of gratitude for not only education, but the people in her life, too.

For Bogdan Peres, adjusting to online learning wasn’t as easy. Strong mental health and routine go hand in hand for him, he said. He’s tried to stick to his routine while also carving out time for things like going outside and exercising. The hardest adjustment has been experiencing college without being with his friends.

“When I’m at school and I’m surrounded by all my friends, all the people that love me... Those are the last faces I see before I fall asleep. Those are the last people I talk to before I fall asleep,” Peres said.

It’s given him more time to have negative or anxiety-inducing thoughts, he said. It’s also affected his motivation; doing college from home means he’s no longer surrounded by motivated, hardworking peers, Peres said.

While Sambuddha Chattopadhyay, a junior at Harvard University, said it’s difficult to define one’s mental state, he has noticed some changes.

“I think looking around and seeing that various things are extremely wrong with the world has been...troubling. It has caused some mental stress and what not,” he said.

Chattopadhyay hopes that quarantine has given him more time to reflect and take time for himself.

“I think how we react to the situation and how we carry that as a person...I think it really defines who you are as a person in a moment of crisis. I just want to be a better person, frankly,” he said.

05/22/2020

Brighten your day with some bloopers featuring some of our spring 2020 graduating interns!

05/21/2020
A Message from the CBS News Graduating Interns

A Message from the CBS News Graduating Interns!

A big thank you to Elizabeth Germino, Margo Snipe, Simone McKenny, Almaz Abedje, Cecilia Hua, Gabi Dunham, and Maggie Carucci for putting this tribute together. We couldn’t be more proud of all our Spring interns this semester!

Music by Jake Stavros

SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECTDuring this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a...
05/20/2020

SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECT

During this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a 1 minute segment about how COVID-19 is affecting an aspect of their lives.

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Can California’s Arts and Museums Industry Persevere in the Face of COVID-19?

California has some of the most prominent arts and museum industries in the world, but they are facing significant hurdles in the face of uncertain times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.


By Tara Atrian

At this time of year, South Grand Avenue in Los Angeles should be bustling and filled to the brim with pedestrians, cars and bikers. It’s usually especially energetic around the portion of the avenue that is nestled between West 2nd and 3rd Streets.

That’s where the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) and The Broad, two art museums that are among the city’s most popular destinations, are located. Their doors have been shuttered since last month due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has hit every industry in Los Angeles hard, but it's especially debilitating for industries that are already sensitive to disruption. The arts and museums industry is one of them.

The Public Policy Institute of California ​found t​ hat the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors comprised over 80 percent of the jobs lost in the state during the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. The job losses in the arts and museums industry reflect that devastating development.

In late March, MOCA​ notified​ nearly 100 part-time workers that they were laid off. This constituted over 50 percent of the institution's workforce.

This month, The Broad ​announced​ that they were laying off 130 employees as part of the uncertainty surrounding the museum’s closure.

These museums ​join many others across​ the United States in dramatically cutting their staff rosters and some smaller museums, including ​a few in Los Angeles​, may not survive the pandemic at all.

Brenda Reyes-Chavez, a former assistant merchandiser at MOCA and an artist, was one of the many museum employees who lost their job in March.

She had worked for the museum for over four years and was blindsided by the news.

“We had a feeling we were going to shut down soon considering the urgency of the situation but we never expected a massive layoff”, Reyes-Chavez said.

Reyes-Chavez says that the museum couldn’t answer many of the concerns that their former staff had about the layoffs, “I felt very disappointed and frustrated that MOCA was not being clear. They would release information to the press at the same time that they would tell us.”

The layoffs came just as the employees were in the process of unionizing after a successful bid was launched​ late last year.

Reyes-Chavez says that the union’s existence was especially helpful in advocating on the staff’s behalf, “Luckily our union fought for call-backs and extended severance pay.”

Like many others who were laid off, Raymond Rivera, a former MOCA staff member of over 2 years and an artist, is still reeling from the news and is trying to figure out his next plan.
“I do feel hopeful that I’ll be hired back but—as of now—we do not have a return-to-work date set in place.”

Rivera says that there is a slight silver lining to being laid off, “It does seem like an opportunity to regroup and rest.”

It’s not just museum workers who have been affected by the precarious conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The arts industry as a whole has been rocked by the financial losses associated with COVID-19.

A recent ​survey​ of U.S. artists conducted by American for the Arts found that two-thirds of artists and creative workers have become unemployed because of COVID-19 conditions and nearly all respondents said that they experienced income loss from the pandemic.

In the midst of the economic downturn for the community, many organizations and community members have banded together to ​create ​mutual aid funds, allocate emergency grants and distribute other resources to address the gap in funding for artists and organizations.

The ​Center for Cultural Innovation​, a California-based non-profit that supports individuals in the arts, has been ​compiling​ these resources for the arts community.

Jevohn Tyler Newsome of the Center for Cultural Innovation has seen firsthand the collective action that many organizations have taken to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the arts community.

“I've witnessed the rapid response from the Bay Area's community of emerging artists. Instagram accounts and Google Docs popped up left and right within the first couple days of the official shelter-in-place orders. There were a lot of scattered crowdsourcing efforts distributing funds for freelancers, artists and service workers.”

Newsome says that this moment has potential to bring the arts community into general labor movement conversations in a way that has never been seen before after the pandemic restrictions are eased.

“I want to avoid framing the pandemic in an opportunistic lens, but at the same time I can't help but see this moment as a point of no return—the need for change is too great.”

Many artists agree that there is potential for long-lasting changes to emerge out of this crisis for the arts and museums community.

Rivera explains, “If the AIDS pandemic— that’s still on-going—is any indication, it will mean some really exciting things will be produced by folks persisting in spite of everything that’s going on.”

For Reyes-Chavez, it is fundamental that the arts and museums community bounces back from the fallout.

“Without arts and culture, we have nothing. It is the foundation for everything!”

05/18/2020

SPRING 2020 INTERN PROJECT

During this time of uncertainty, we tasked our interns with writing an article and producing a 1 minute segment about how COVID-19 is affecting an aspect of their lives.

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North Shore Fitness Studio Adapting Since Closure

By Elaina Aliferis

Longtime friends and business partners Emily Skoniecki and Hillary Mandelbaum opened their first Inner Cycle spin studio in 2011. Since then, they have owned and operated 5 successful studios across the North Shore. Now, like most small businesses in Massachusetts, Inner Cycle spin studios are trying to adapt during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was probably about the first week in March that we started changing things around just because of how very serious and contagious the virus is,” Mandelbaum said. “We implemented wiping down bikes before and after...of course we keep our studios very clean.”

“It got to be almost uncomfortable to hold classes that were packed. I could just sense that there was this discomfort from riders. Emily and I just sat in front of each other and said ‘This doesn’t feel right anymore’. We left Sunday March 15th and we said ‘We’re going to close.’”

Fitness studios across the country are turning to social media and Zoom to keep their audiences engaged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Inner Cycle began offering virtual classes during the third week of March. Emily and Hillary wanted to elevate the virtual class experience even more, so they decided to rent out their stationary bikes to their clients.

“We run a full schedule, Monday through Sunday, as early as 6:00 a.m. and as late as 7:00 p.m. There's options for both people with stationary bikes and without stationary bikes at home,” Mandelbaum said.

“As a means to bring in some sort of revenue, we decided to rent out bikes out to clients. It’s such a shame to have them (stationary bikes) be sitting idle in studios that we’re paying rent for and can't use. I think it was a very creative way to keep our people riding and keep them engaged with us.”

Mandelbaum says she is unsure of when Inner Cycle studios will be able to open their doors to customers and generate normal revenue. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker extended the states’ social distancing guidelines until May 18th in effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Once studios do reopen, there’s a question of whether they’ll hold classes at full capacity or keep class enrollment to a minimum. Decreasing classes to half capacity was one of the first steps Inner Cycle studios took to comply with social distancing recommendations.

“I believe we will open up very cautiously with those same protocols we implemented before we closed in terms of sanitation and cleanliness,” Mandelbaum said.

Through this whole experience, Hillary and Emily have found a silver lining, and they hope to continue offering virtual classes to their students even after they do reopen their studios.

“I think this whole experience has been really eye opening for us because although we are not in the studio spinning, there are people that are home whether they are new mothers or old clients that moved away for work, they are joining us online,” Mandelbaum said. “I feel like this is a whole new avenue of business that Emily and I have been exposed to that we want to continue to massage and improve and create.”

Until Inner Cycle studios can reopen, Emily and Hillary will continue to adapt and offer virtual spin classes to their loyal customer base.

“Keep being awesome,” Mandelbaum said. “We’re going to get through it. Find beauty in every single day. Hang onto what’s important. Keep going, and keep spinning!”

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