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Stay active, connected in quarantine

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As villagers prepare to hunker down to avoid spread of COVID-19 for at least the next several weeks, and likely longer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, has posted a lengthy compendium of ways to prepare for the outbreak at cdc.gov. These preparation recommendations include information on how to deal with the stress inherent to the pandemic and to remaining physically isolated for an indeterminate period.

Though it’s important to stay informed, the CDC recommends taking breaks from exposure to news and social media, as constant information about the pandemic can fan the flames of stress and anxiety. They also recommend exercise, continuing hobbies and activities and connecting with friends and family.

But how can individuals stay active, physically, mentally and socially, and stay connected when it’s so important to remain physically distant from others?

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Go outside

Though Glen Helen’s public trails have closed to the public due to enormous traffic through its trails, it’s still considered safe to walk, hike and bike outdoors — as long as you do so in places that aren’t crowded.

“If you don’t have symptoms, going out in nature where you are not within six feet of other people is okay,” said Crystal Watson of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in an interview with The Atlantic. So if you do happen to meet another hiker on the trails, be sure to maintain a safe distance — and if you are feeling ill at all, stay home.

Village parks like Ellis Pond and Ohio Department of Natural Resources sites like Clifton Gorge are open, but are experiencing greater use as indoor recreation sites are closed, so villagers should plan to avoid these places if they appear crowded. The Little Miami Scenic Bike Trail also remains open, though restroom facilities along the trail are closed. A walk down your neighborhood street is a fine way to enjoy the warming weather, too — as long as you greet any neighbors you see from at least six feet away.

As spring emerges, gardening is also a safe way to engage with nature. Late March through early May is the planting season for vegetables in Ohio — seedlings for cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower are all best planted at the end of the month. For a full list of best vegetable planting dates, visit almanac.com/gardening/planting-calendar

Engage with art and culture

Public gathering places like theaters and art galleries are closed to the public by order of the governor in Ohio  — but many such places nationwide are offering videos, digital tours and collections for the viewing public.

Locally, McKinney and YSHS Performing Arts Teacher Lorrie Sparrow-Knapp is working to keep the schools’ theater productions digitally accessible. The young thespians who performed “The Bigfoot Letters” last fall received the honor of being selected to perform the play at the State Thespian Competition. The competition, like so many things around the country, has been canceled, along with rehearsals for the Bulldogs’ upcoming spring production of “The Fair Maid of the West.”

However, Sparrow-Knapp received permission from the writers of “The Bigfoot Letters,” Russel Stich and Nancy Nixon, to post a recording of the play so that community members can enjoy it remotely. She also stated that she’d be posting more archival content of performances and rehearsals as she receives permission. To watch  “The Bigfoot Letters,” visit sites.google.com/ysschools.org/theater/fearless-thespians. (Production info for the play is available at http://www.thebigfootletters.com.)

The Dayton Art Institute’s website (daytonartinstitute.org) hosts a series of collection highlights, some of which aren’t on physical display at this time, making this abbreviated digital tour a special treat. The Cincinnati Art Museum (cincinnatiartmuseum.org) also has digital exhibitions on display. Far outside of Yellow Springs, the Louvre in France offers virtual tours (louvre.fr/en/visites-en-ligne), and the Vatican hosts a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.

For music lovers, The Berlin Philharmonic is offering 30 free days of its “Digital Concert Hall” to anyone who signs up by March 31 at bernliner-philharmoniker.de, using the code BERLINPHIL.

Last week, the Metropolitan Opera announced that every night for the duration of its closure, it would stream encore presentations from its “Live in HD” series. All “Nightly Met Opera Streams” will begin at 7:30 p.m. EDT and will remain available on the Met’s homepage for 20 hours. For more information, visit metopera.org.

Visit the library online

Though the YS library is closed through April 6, and all events are canceled through April 15, the library still has a number of items that can be checked out online at http://www.greenelibrary.info. E-books, audio books, video story books, music, movies and TV are all available to borrow by anyone with a library card. Patrons will have to download apps like Hoopla and Overdrive in order to check out digital copies, but tutorials are available on the library’s website.

Entertain, educate kids

When kids home from school aren’t completing their distance-learning lessons or engaging in (now copious) play time, there are a number of online resources to help enrich their long days.

The Boonshoft Museum of Discovery in Dayton (boonshoftmuseum.org) is hosting a bevy of digital programming, including a thrice daily livestream on weekdays: a science education program on a variety of topics at 10 a.m.; a virtual museum experience at 2 p.m.; and an astronomy experience at 6 p.m. Programming will change each day, and if you miss a stream, it can be downloaded via a Dropbox link.

The Cincinnati Zoo (cincinnatizoo.org) hosts “Home Safari Facebook Live” each weekday at 3 p.m., highlighting one of its resident animals. The zoo inaugurated the series with the famed and beloved hippopotamus, Fiona. All live streams are posted to the zoo’s YouTube channel shortly after they end.

For the next several weeks, each weekday at 1 p.m., The Kennedy Center is sponsoring a livestream on its YouTube channel with its “Education Artist-in-Residence at Home,” Mo Willems. Young viewers are invited to sketch along with Willems, a popular children’s author, learn about art and look around his studio.

“We’re going to hang out, and as a matter of fact, I’m looking forward to it,” Willems said in his introductory video. “Because there’s nothing more fun than doodling with a friend.”

Exercise body and mind

It might seem counterintuitive, but being at home — the place where most of us retreat from outside stress and anxiety — may not always be the relaxing environment we might wish when we’re barred from going anywhere else. When the stress hits, it might help to delve into some physical exercise. Though the Wellness Center is closed, it has begun offering resources for home wellness and exercise online (antiochcollege.edu/wellness-center/wellness-at-home).

Despite YouTube’s reputation as the home of funny cats and prank videos, it also boasts thousands of videos teaching yoga, aerobics and more. It’s also a wellspring for instructional videos on any hobby or interest you might have — from crafts to cooking to plumbing to car repair.

It can take some time to separate the wheat from the chaff, but good, popular channels on a variety of instructional subjects are often easy to find via YouTube’s algorithm.  Try channels like “Yoga with Adriene,” “TheCrafsMan SteadyCraftin,” and “Bob Ross” (of PBS’ “The Joy of Painting” fame) for a dose of relaxing instruction. Whatever your hobby or interest — now’s the time to pick up a new one — there’s surely something for you.

And for true relaxation, try one (or more) of the hundreds of guided meditation videos. (Find a personal playlist of my own favorite guided meditations at

Connect with others

One of the most important things we can do during this time of physical distancing is to stay connected — by whatever means we have available. Online services like Google Hangouts, Skype and Zoom can keep those of us with internet connections together via video chat. These services aren’t limited only to conversations between two people — both Hangouts and Zoom support video conference calling, so in theory, one could even throw a virtual party. Tutorials for all of these services are available on YouTube.

But what about those who aren’t set up for these connections?

Write letters to your friends, family, community members — especially those who are most isolated. If you’re concerned about the possibility of the coronavirus spreading via mail, rest assured — the CDC has stated that there is very low risk of the virus surviving on packages and letters, because of the “poor survivability of coronavirus on these surfaces.”

If you’re still worried, though, pick up the phone and give someone a call — if you need a number, take a look in the Redbook. Continually reaching out to one another via safe methods is crucial to our collective wellbeing as we all venture — separated physically, but still together — into the unknown.

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