Student Perspectives on the Disruption Caused by COVID-19

    It’s been a hard time for many in the wake of the novel coronavirus, and while the ranks of The Sideline don’t include the many essential workers that have kept our country afloat, we’re all students that have had our social and academic lives cut short by mass cancellations. This piece is meant to tell our story, documenting what it’s like for just a few students in these uncertain times.

    Michael Gorman, Colorado College ‘21

    I found out my school was going online and the impending shutdown of our dorms and facilities right before the last rep of a sprint workout. It was a strange feeling standing there exhausted, knowing my season was likely over — but also knowing I was about to give this last rep everything I had. After a painful last 300m, I was only starting to come to terms with the wide range of consequences of COVID-19, from the unfortunate end of my track season, to the more tangible impacts on my academics, to the people across the country that were collectively scrambling to safety and distance.

    Due to a few extra credits, I won’t take the last two classes of the semester (I’m on the Block Plan), so all those videos of people smoking bongs or showing up to class naked are not things I’ll have to confront as part of my experience sheltering at home. It’s almost more weird that I’m already on summer break without much to do besides exercise and play Xbox. I’ll keep myself busy while school is in session. While facing a five-month break until school hopefully starts back up in August, I’m not sure how I’ll fill my time if quarantine continues into the summer.

    Many thanks to all the essential workers out there who are under great duress, and best of health to everyone affected.

    Mason Robinson, University of Southern California ‘21

    Just several weeks ago, I was sent home from my abroad program in Rome following the spread of Covid-19 in Italy. I was devastated, as some of the best couple of months of my college years came to a sudden halt, and I was sent home to suburbia while everyone I knew was enjoying their springs on college campuses. 

    Little did I know that just a week or so later, pretty much every college student across the country was sent home to embark on a potentially multi-month social distancing exercise to mitigate the spread of the virus in America. With minimal amount of work from Zoom classes and most businesses shutting down, many of my peers and I have plenty of time solely to burn inside of our own homes. 

    While the situation is overall horrible, I find myself remaining relatively calm throughout this. I am bored. I am extremely unsure if this will end in May, June, July … and I miss my friends. But I am safe, home, healthy, with family, and privileged to not be facing an existential crisis right now with either my health or family’s financial stability at risk. I have all the freedom to spend hours working on myself and activities I haven’t made time for in months previous: guitar, painting, writing, and working out. 

    To complain about my current situation feels insulting toward the countless communities of people who are facing unemployment, food insecurity, and disease as the virus is taking its toll against the American working class, especially those on hourly wages and lacking benefits. 

    There are some things you can’t control in life and it is clear we can’t control this virus. However, we can control our own social distancing in order to try to save the lives of others. Likewise, we can control our own perspective on our current situation and be grateful for what we still have and how we can use that privilege to aid the disenfranchised, hopefully working to be better and more appreciative people when this is all said and done. There isn’t going to be a return to normal, but who is to say the new normal can’t be any better? 

    Nathalie Reinstein, Colorado College ‘22

    I ate shit skiing over Presidents Day weekend this year, so was sent home to heal a broken collarbone a full month before Covid-19 cancelled semesters all over the country. So when I heard the news that I, in fact, would not be returning to college at all before the coming fall semester, I was already pretty much fully reverted back to my living-at-home-and-being-parented-for-the-first-time-in-years way of life. That didn’t make this any easier, however. 

    It’s been about two months so far, and all I can say is that I am grateful for mine and my family’s health and safety despite daily moodiness and sweet, sweet claustrophobia. It is an incredible privilege to be able to live under the same roof with my mom, dad, and sister in health and mostly peace. I do miss the heck out of my friends from school, and it does really feel like things have been put on hold in some Black Mirror-type time warp. I have faith in my relationships that they can survive some tasteful social distancing, so there’s no existential crisis beyond the obvious. Some parts of all of this are so weird and puzzling that they graze comedy. I’m now having to practice a long distance relationship with my boyfriend who lives just ten miles away. I see him for walks like we’re involved in some Victorian courting situation. I really can’t complain, though. 

    To anyone reading this, take care and be safe.

    Katherine Salisbury, University of Southern California ‘23

    I learned about the potential semester-long shutdown of USC while I was packing for my spring break trip. While I wasn’t leaving the next day for a wild vacation to Cabo with friends or for a wholesome adventure to Europe to see the sights, I was looking forward to a relaxing week at home filled with tea, sleep, and family. That is, until I realized that I might not get to go back to school once that week was over. 

    At first, I was in denial. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that my freshman year of college may really be over. The past semester at USC has been filled with the best times of my life so far. It seemed as though everything was going right in my life, and I had never been so happy than I was at the time. 

    However, my feelings of sadness and loss were eventually trumped by feelings of gratitude. I realized that I had a great house to go home to with giving parents, a cute dog, and a stable internet connection with which I could continue my classes online. I had amazing friends both at school and at home whose relationships I knew wouldn’t be affected by a few months apart. 

    Most importantly, I knew that I was fortunate to be missing multiple “firsts” rather than those “lasts” that so many people I knew would never get a chance at again. I thought about my senior friends who would likely not even get a chance to come back to USC. And after putting my position in perspective, I ultimately felt grateful that I would still have time to experience those “firsts” again in the future. 

    Despite my efforts to maintain a positive outlook throughout this experience, there is no denying that this whole quarantine thing is extremely tedious. I’ve been keeping myself busy and my mind occupied with daily yoga, tennis, guitar, and — yes — a lot of netflix. Through keeping myself busy, I’ve been able to maintain some sense of normalcy in my life, and I am so excited for the end of all this when I can appreciate the people and the places I’ve missed. 

    Greg King, Villanova University ‘21

    Spring time at Villanova is all about basketball. It was two days before my Wildcats were about to be #gettingbuckets at Madison Square Garden at the Big East Tournament when both that event and subsequently the NCAA Tournament were cancelled. This came as a disheartening shock to the players on the team, but also to the fans, alumni, and students because everyone knows that spring is the best time of the year to be on campus. 

    While it was of course sad to come home and not be able to watch my favorite sports event of the year, it is important for students like myself to make the most out of the cards we have been dealt. As a Junior who doesn’t plan on living in the area I grew up in, I realized while packing my bags this might be the last time I’ll get to live with my parents and grandmother for an extended period of time. 

    Missing March Madness and my friends at school has been a major bummer to say the least. But spending time with my family at home has been a subtle silver lining that I have really come to appreciate.

    Mateo Gutierrez Whitman HS Class of ‘20

    When I found out my school was shutting down for only two weeks in mid-March, I was optimistic about returning to school in April and enjoying a two week break with friends. However, after every couple of days, the situation would only get worse. Things went from “Looks like we’ll be back mid-April now instead of early April,” to “If we come back to school right before May 8th, then it’ll be alright because we’ll still have prom,” and finally to, “Are we even going to have graduation?”

    The last year in high school is typically highlighted by two main events: prom and beach week. After a hard semester of college applications, seniors were supposed to take advantage of their last semester making more memories with close and new friends. Now,  many students have made the realization that there’s no more marks to be left this year, and our senior year is basically over. Like my friends and fellow seniors, accepting this realization was the hardest thing to do. Any valuable memories with friends of high school’s best year would have to already have occurred.

    One of the hardest parts about all of this is the uncertainty of the virus. People will tell you that experts are overreacting, and we’ll be all good by late May or early June. Some say it’s a lot more dangerous than that, and we should expect an end to this by July or August. Then, the worst of them all, there’ll be many that tell you we won’t even be able to attend school in the fall. For seniors, this uncertainty is killer. How can we enjoy our last hoorah with our high school buddies if we can’t even physically be near them? Are we even going to have a summer?

    For me, the pain of not being around friends is substantial. After this year, I won’t be seeing my high school friends as often anymore, so 2020 was supposed to be a crazy, memory-filled last rodeo, but now that seems unlikely. 

    With every family member working most days in different parts of my house, I slouch away my hours on a couch doing nothing but listening to music, occasionally playing video games, and usually watching movies. I only go outside to walk for 30 minutes, drive around, or go to a park. I also have Zoom calls and Facetimes with friends occasionally, but they only bring temporary joy that turns to sorrow when they end. One funny take from all this is that faking a sickness to escape from going to school was a stunt I’ve pulled off, but now I’d do anything to go back. 

    Kurt Zottl Cuthbertson HS Class of ‘21

    It all happened so suddenly. I was watching the second round of the ACC tournament, studying for my chemistry test, when I realized how bad the situation was. We got two weeks off of school at first, and like Mateo stated, I was excited for a two-week break. But once seeing how badly the situation unfolded, I was no longer excited. All I wanted was for life to go back to normal.

    This virus has affected my life in seemingly every way possible — from school, to sports, to seeing my friends. All of that has been taken away, and I’m not going to lie, it’s been super hard. When your everyday life is affected in such a weird way, what is there to do? For me, there seems only one thing we can do: stay positive.

    I think the worst part is not having March Madness. My friends and I have always filled out brackets, watched the games together, hidden the games on our phones in class, and just had fun together this time of year. And while I’m sad with all these cancellations, I think March Madness hurts the most, especially with my favorite college basketball team, Maryland, having the chance to go far!

    And while I’ve tried to stay positive, my life has gotten to the point where getting in a car is exciting. I’ve been listening to a lot of music, playing some more video games, playing hoops in my driveway, simply anything to pass the time. The days seem longer, weeks seem like months, and I cannot wait until life can go back to somewhat normal.

    To anyone reading this, we will get through this. It’s tough, this quarantine is boring, but let’s stay positive. Also, let’s appreciate the things we have more when this quarantine is over. The small things, like eating at a restaurant, I will never take for granted again. 

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