student life in quarantine essay

One Student's Perspective on Life During a Pandemic

  • Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
  • Ethics Resources
  • Ethics Spotlight
  • COVID-19: Ethics, Health and Moving Forward

person sitting at table with open laptop, notebook and pen image link to story

The pandemic and resulting shelter-in-place restrictions are affecting everyone in different ways. Tiana Nguyen, shares both the pros and cons of her experience as a student at Santa Clara University.

person sitting at table with open laptop, notebook and pen

person sitting at table with open laptop, notebook and pen

Tiana Nguyen ‘21 is a Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. She is majoring in Computer Science, and is the vice president of Santa Clara University’s Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) chapter .

The world has slowed down, but stress has begun to ramp up.

In the beginning of quarantine, as the world slowed down, I could finally take some time to relax, watch some shows, learn to be a better cook and baker, and be more active in my extracurriculars. I have a lot of things to be thankful for. I especially appreciate that I’m able to live in a comfortable house and have gotten the opportunity to spend more time with my family. This has actually been the first time in years in which we’re all able to even eat meals together every single day. Even when my brother and I were young, my parents would be at work and sometimes come home late, so we didn’t always eat meals together. In the beginning of the quarantine I remember my family talking about how nice it was to finally have meals together, and my brother joking, “it only took a pandemic to bring us all together,” which I laughed about at the time (but it’s the truth).

Soon enough, we’ll all be back to going to different places and we’ll be separated once again. So I’m thankful for my living situation right now. As for my friends, even though we’re apart, I do still feel like I can be in touch with them through video chat—maybe sometimes even more in touch than before. I think a lot of people just have a little more time for others right now.

Although there are still a lot of things to be thankful for, stress has slowly taken over, and work has been overwhelming. I’ve always been a person who usually enjoys going to classes, taking on more work than I have to, and being active in general. But lately I’ve felt swamped with the amount of work given, to the point that my days have blurred into online assignments, Zoom classes, and countless meetings, with a touch of baking sweets and aimless searching on Youtube.

The pass/no pass option for classes continues to stare at me, but I look past it every time to use this quarter as an opportunity to boost my grades. I've tried to make sense of this type of overwhelming feeling that I’ve never really felt before. Is it because I’m working harder and putting in more effort into my schoolwork with all the spare time I now have? Is it because I’m not having as much interaction with other people as I do at school? Or is it because my classes this quarter are just supposed to be this much harder? I honestly don’t know; it might not even be any of those. What I do know though, is that I have to continue work and push through this feeling.

This quarter I have two synchronous and two asynchronous classes, which each have pros and cons. Originally, I thought I wanted all my classes to be synchronous, since that everyday interaction with my professor and classmates is valuable to me. However, as I experienced these asynchronous classes, I’ve realized that it can be nice to watch a lecture on my own time because it even allows me to pause the video to give me extra time for taking notes. This has made me pay more attention during lectures and take note of small details that I might have missed otherwise. Furthermore, I do realize that synchronous classes can also be a burden for those abroad who have to wake up in the middle of the night just to attend a class. I feel that it’s especially unfortunate when professors want students to attend but don’t make attendance mandatory for this reason; I find that most abroad students attend anyway, driven by the worry they’ll be missing out on something.

I do still find synchronous classes amazing though, especially for discussion-based courses. I feel in touch with other students from my classes whom I wouldn’t otherwise talk to or regularly reach out to. Since Santa Clara University is a small school, it is especially easy to interact with one another during classes on Zoom, and I even sometimes find it less intimidating to participate during class through Zoom than in person. I’m honestly not the type to participate in class, but this quarter I found myself participating in some classes more than usual. The breakout rooms also create more interaction, since we’re assigned to random classmates, instead of whomever we’re sitting closest to in an in-person class—though I admit breakout rooms can sometimes be awkward.

Something that I find beneficial in both synchronous and asynchronous classes is that professors post a lecture recording that I can always refer to whenever I want. I found this especially helpful when I studied for my midterms this quarter; it’s nice to have a recording to look back upon in case I missed something during a lecture.

Overall, life during these times is substantially different from anything most of us have ever experienced, and at times it can be extremely overwhelming and stressful—especially in terms of school for me. Online classes don’t provide the same environment and interactions as in-person classes and are by far not as enjoyable. But at the end of the day, I know that in every circumstance there is always something to be thankful for, and I’m appreciative for my situation right now. While the world has slowed down and my stress has ramped up, I’m slowly beginning to adjust to it.

Study Paragraphs

My Quarantine Experience Essay & Paragraphs For Students

The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in an era of quarantine and social distancing, profoundly impacting our daily lives. This essay will delve into my personal experience during quarantine, highlighting the challenges, adaptations, and insights gleaned from this unique period.

Table of Contents

Essay On My Quarantine Experience

To comprehend my quarantine experience fully, it is important to understand what quarantine entails. It is a preventive measure aimed at curbing the spread of infectious diseases by isolating individuals who have been exposed to the infection. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine involved staying at home, minimizing physical contact with others and practicing strict hygiene protocols.

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); Initial Reactions: The Onset of Quarantine

The initial days of quarantine were marked by a mix of anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion as familiar routines were disrupted. This section will explore my initial reactions to the sudden shift in lifestyle, the challenges faced, and the coping mechanisms adopted.

Adapting to a New Normal: Life During Quarantine

Quarantine necessitated a significant adaptation to a “new normal”. From working from home to virtual social interactions, life underwent a dramatic transformation. This part will discuss the various adjustments made during quarantine, focusing on work, education, social interactions, and daily routines.

Discovering New Interests: The Silver Lining

Despite the challenges, quarantine also offered an opportunity to explore new interests and hobbies. With additional free time, I found myself engaging in activities like reading, cooking, online courses, and fitness routines at home. This section will delve into these newfound interests and their impact on my overall well-being.

Emotional Impact: Navigating Mental Health During Quarantine

Quarantine also had a significant impact on mental health. The isolation, coupled with the constant influx of pandemic-related news, led to feelings of stress and anxiety. This part will discuss the emotional impact of quarantine, the strategies employed to maintain mental health, and the significance of seeking help when required.

Lessons Learned: Insights from the Quarantine Experience

Quarantine, while challenging, also offered valuable insights into resilience, adaptability, and the importance of community. It highlighted the need for empathy, understanding, and collective responsibility during times of crisis. This section will reflect on these lessons and their implications for the future.

Conclusion: Reflecting on My Quarantine Experience

My quarantine experience was a journey of adaptation, self-discovery, and resilience. While it posed numerous challenges, it also offered an opportunity to slow down, introspect, and focus on personal growth. As I reflect on this period, I realize that despite the hardships, the experience has equipped me with a better understanding of myself, a greater appreciation for connection, and a renewed sense of resilience to navigate future challenges.

Paragraph Writing

Hello! Welcome to my Blog My name is Angelina. I am a college professor. I love reading writing for kids students. This blog is full with valuable knowledge for all class students. Thank you for reading my articles.

Related Posts:

My Experience During COVID-19 Pandemic As a Student Essay

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

  • Share full article


Supported by

current events conversation

What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic

Teenage comments in response to our recent writing prompts, and an invitation to join the ongoing conversation.

student life in quarantine essay

By The Learning Network

The rapidly-developing coronavirus crisis is dominating global headlines and altering life as we know it. Many schools worldwide have closed. In the United States alone, 55 million students are rapidly adjusting to learning and socializing remotely, spending more time with family, and sacrificing comfort and convenience for the greater good.

For this week’s roundup of student comments on our writing prompts , it was only fitting to ask teenagers to react to various dimensions of this unprecedented situation: how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting their daily lives, how we can all help one another during the crisis and what thoughts or stories the term “social distancing” conjures for them.

Every week, we shout out new schools who have commented on our writing prompts. This week, perhaps because of many districts’ move to remote online learning, we had nearly 90 new classes join us from around the world. Welcome to the conversation to students from:

Academy of St. Elizabeth; Abilene, Tex.; Alabama; Anna High School, Tex.; Arlington, Va.; Austria-Hungary; Baltimore, Md.; Bellingham, Wash.; Ben Lippen School; Bloomington, Ind.; Branham High School, San Jose, Calif.; Boston; Buffalo High School, Wyo.; Camdenton, Mo.; Cincinnati, Ohio; Collierville, Tenn.; Dawson High School, Tex.; Denmark; Desert Vista High School; Doylestown, Penn.; Dublin, Calif.; Dunkirk, N.Y. ; Eleanor Murray Fallon Middle School; Elmhurst, Ill.; Fairfax, Va.; Framingham, Mass.; Frederick, Md.; Hartford, Conn.; Jefferson, N.J.; Kantonschule Uster, Switzerland; Laconia, N.H.; Las Vegas; Lashon Academy; Lebanon, N.H.; Ledyard High School; Leuzinger High School; Livonia, Mich.; Manistee Middle School; Miami, Fla.; Melrose High School; Milton Hershey School, Hershey, Penn.; Milwaukee; Montreal; Naguabo, Puerto Rico; Nebraska; Nessacus Regional Middle School; New Rochelle, N.Y.; Newport, Ky.; Newton, Mass.; North Stanly High School; Oakland, Calif.; Papillion Middle School; Polaris Expeditionary Learning School; Pomona, Calif.; Portsmouth, N.H.; Pueblo, Colo.; Reading, Mass.; Redmond Wash.; Richland, Wash.; Richmond Hill Ontario; Ridgeley, W.Va.; Rockford, Mich.; Rovereto, Italy; Salem, Mass.; Scottsdale, Ariz.; Seattle, Wash.; Sequoyah School Pasadena; Shackelford Junior High, Arlington, Tex.; South El Monte High School; Sugar Grove, Ill.; St. Louis, Mo.; Timberview High School; Topsfield, Mass.; Valley Stream North High School; Vienna, Va.; Waupun, Wis.; Wauwatosa, Wis.; Wenatchee, Wash.; Westborough Mass.; White Oak Middle School, Ohio; and Winter Park High School.

We’re so glad to have you here! Now, on to this week’s comments.

Please note: Student comments have been lightly edited for length, but otherwise appear as they were originally submitted.

How Is the Coronavirus Outbreak Affecting Your Life?

The coronavirus has changed how we work, play and learn : Schools are closing, sports leagues have been canceled, and many people have been asked to work from home.

We asked students how their lives have changed since the onset of this pandemic. They told us about all the things they miss, what it’s like to learn online, and how they’re dealing with the uncertainty. But, they also pointed out the things that have brought them joy and peace amid the chaos.

Life as we know it, upended

Yesterday my school district announced that our school would be closed until May 5. Upon receiving the email, I immediately contacted my friends to share our responses. To most of my friends and me, this news was no surprise. Already finishing week one of quarantine, I find myself in a state of pessimism in regards to life in the midst of a pandemic. My days have blurred into Google Classroom assignments, hobby seeking, aimless searching on Netflix, and on exceptionally boring days, existential contemplation.

The dichotomy of chance freedom from school and yet the discombobulated feelings of helplessness and loneliness plague my time home alone. My parents are yet working and as an only child, I try my best to stay sane with blasting music and shows. Other times I call my friends to pass the time doing school assignments. Even then, schoolwork seems increasingly pointless.

With most of my classes being APs, the recent CollegeBoard update for the 2020 AP exams was a blow to my educational motivation. I am naturally a driven, passionate learner with intense intellectual curiosity. But in the midst of this chaos, I can’t help feeling like all the assignments from my classes are just busywork. I manage to stay afloat, keeping in mind that everyone is doing their best. Despite no ostensible end in sight, I hope this quarantine brings out the best in me, in society, and in nature.

— Brenda Kim, Valencia High School

The struggles (and joys) of distance learning

Although we do have online school now, it is not the same. Working from home is worse as I don’t care to admit, my work habits from home are not the best. I am easily able to procrastinate at home and having class in bed is not the best idea. Plus, I can no longer get the one on one help teachers provide if needed.

— larisa, california

The coronavirus affected me because now having to do school virtually is kinda hard because I don’t have much of a good wi-fi, and its nerve-racking to know about what we’re gonna do about the tests we have to take in order to pass because I do care about graduating, and going to next grade in order to keep going to finally graduate school and get my diploma I just hope this virus doesn’t affect anything else besides school.

— julien phillips, texas

I personally have to do 2-3 hours of work a day instead of the usual 8 hours (including homework), and it feels more tiring somehow. I’m in the comfort of my home all the time, but have to do this for a few hours, and it feels much more monotonous than 8 hours in a classroom, and that’s what everybody has been doing for a lot of their life.

But in that sense, it also feels a lot calmer not being around people constantly, having anxiety and autism. The people in classrooms are insane. It didn’t affect my life negatively by much, but it really makes me think. If the school system were like this in the near future, I think it would be much more sustainable, in many ways.

— Alexen, Lawrence, Massachusetts

I never understood how much social interaction I experienced at school until the end of the first week of my self quarantine. I had been trapped in my house with my family for about 5 days at that point, when my AP Language and Composition class had a Zoom conference. I had done them for other classes so I wasn’t exactly excited for the opportunity. It was just another zoom lecture.

As it turned out, it wasn’t a lecture, it was a conversation. It was a discussion about our last current events assignment that I didn’t know I desperately needed. The conversation was explosive. Differing opinions flew left and right, people brought their cats to join in the fun, family members popped in and out of the frames, and the controlled chaos felt incredible. I relished in the opportunity to argue and challenge their opinions. I didn’t even realize how isolated I was feeling until I was able to talk to them in a creative and intellectual setting once again.

— Yaffa Segal, New Rochelle High School

Finding new ways to socialize

Finding new ways to stay social has been essential, and recently, my friends and I all drove our cars to a large parking lot, parked more than 6 feet apart from each other, sat in our trunks, talked and enjoyed each other’s company for over an hour and a half. This was crucial in keeping our sanity. We missed each other and being in the presence of people other than our family; however, we were sure to maintain our distance and continue social distancing. We did not touch anything new and we stayed more than 6 feet apart from each other speaking about the adjustments we have been making and the ways we have been coping with all of the changes we are experiencing.

— Carly Rieger, New Rochelle High School

…[T]his “corona-cation” has given me a lot of time to reflect, and while I haven’t seen my friends in person for a week and half, I feel closer to them than ever. We’ve FaceTimed almost every day and we play some of our favorite group games; Psych and PhotoRoulette are two apps I highly recommend to have fun from the comfort of everyone’s homes.

Because my mom has a weak immune system, I’ve been quarantined since the moment my school closed, so social distancing has been a little more than 6 feet for me. However, my friends did make me a care package filled with my favorite candy and a puzzle which my family completed in a week.

— Jessica Griffin, Glenbard West HS Glen Ellyn, IL

Mourning canceled events

To say that this virus has completely changed my day to day living would just be an understatement. I went from having things to do from 7:20am to 8:45pm every week day to absolutely nothing. The whole month of March was going to be booked as well. I had activities such as the Wilmington Marathon that I work at and the Masters Swim meet that I was going to volunteer for. Then I had a club swim meet but everything got canceled. Everything that I was looking forward to just came to a halt and nothing is going to be postponed, just canceled.

— Ellen Phillips, Hoggard

As a High School senior, this quarantine has seemed to just chop off the fun part of our senior year. We had made it so far, and were so close to getting to experience all of the exciting events and traditions set aside for seniors. This includes our graduation, prom (which is a seniors only event at my school), senior picnic, theme weeks, and much more.

— Cesar, Los Angeles

Like many other students involved in their school theatre programs, I was severely affected by the closing of schools due the growing pandemic. My theatre company had been rehearsing our play for months and in an instant, we were no longer allowed to work on our show. The Texas UIL One-Act Play Contest was postponed because of the coronavirus, and while it is a reasonable action, it left an army of theatre students with nothing to do but vent through memes, TikTok, and other forms of social media. These coping mechanisms helped me, as well as my fellow company members, process the reality that after all the hard work we put in, we may never get to perform for an audience.

— Ryan C, Dawson High School

Living with mental, emotional and financial strain

The coronavirus is having a pretty significant impact on me. Physically, it’s reducing my daily physical activity to the point where the most exercise I get is walking around my house and dancing around my room to songs that make me feel like I’m not in the middle of a pandemic. Emotionally, it has also been very straining. My mom is a substitute teacher and she is out of work for the rest of the school year with no pay. I myself am missing my closest friends a lot right now, and feel lonely often.

— Sela Jasim, Branham High School

I struggle a lot with mental health. I have had depression and ptsd, as well as anxiety for years. Seeing people outside of my family is what keeps me sane, especially those closest to me. Having to FaceTime my therapist is weird and scary. Things are so different now, and I’m slowly losing motivation. My thoughts recently have been “don’t think about it” when I think of how long this could possibly last. I am scared for my grandparents, who live across the country. I feel like I haven’t spent enough time with them and I’m losing my chance. Everything is weird. I can’t find a better way to describe it without being negative. This is a really strange time and I don’t like it. I’m trying my hardest to stay positive but that has never been one of my strong suits.

— Caileigh Robinson, Bellingham, Washington

My mom is a nurse so she has to face the virus, in fact today she is at work, her unit is also the unit that will be taking care of coronavirus patients. My whole family is very afraid that she will get very sick.

— Maddie H., Maryland

Appreciating the good

Although we are going through a horrific time filled with all kinds of uncertainty, we are given the opportunity to spend more time with our loved family and learn more about ourselves to a broader extent while also strengthening our mental mindset. I can’t stress the amount of frustration I have to return to class and my everyday routine however, I’ve learned to become stronger mentality while also becoming creative on how I live my life without being surrounded by tons of people everyday.

— anthony naranjo, Los Angeles

Although I could list all the negatives that come with Covid-19, being a junior in high school, this quarantine has been a really nice calm break from a life that seemed to never stop. A break from 35 hour school weeks along with 15 hours worth of work, being able to sit down and do hobbies I missed is something I am really appreciating.

— Ella Fredrikson, Glenbard West, Glen Ellyn, IL

An upside to these past weeks of quarantine is being able to see my usually busy family more, especially my father. I’ve had more talks and laughs with my family the last few days than I’ve had in the past couple of months, which helped lighten such a stressful time in my opinion.

— Marlin Flores, Classical High School

Several months before the outbreak my mom randomly asked me what would I study if I could choose anything, not for a grade, not for any credit. Now, because of corona, I am learning Greek with my father! He can’t travel for work now and doesn’t attend meetings as frequently, so he is at home too.

— Lily, Seoul, Korea

How Can We Help One Another During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

In a series of recent Times articles , authors wrote about the need for solidarity and generosity in this time of fear and anxiety and the need for Americans to make sacrifices to ensure their safety and that of others in their community.

So we asked students what they and their friends, family and community could do to help and look out for one another during the coronavirus outbreak. Here is what they said:

Help your neighbors, especially the sick and elderly.

There are so many things we can do to help each other during this pandemic. Use gloves when you go shopping or are in public, masks if you think that it would be best for you, those who have more wiggle room financially can help out others who don’t have that same wiggle room financially and who are now struggling, buy groceries for those who can’t afford it or are at risk if they were to go out in public. Donate if you can, and help the elderly or those who desperately need it, and for goodness sake wash your hands and (for all that need to hear the reminder) SOCIAL DISTANCING IS A FRIEND. Social distancing is proven to help drastically, so please, social distance.

— Dakodah, Camdenton, MO

As a person, we have the ability to help our friends, families, elders, people with illnesses in our community and people with high risks of getting the virus. We can accomplish this by simply observing who may need help with shopping, for groceries or clothes, with yard work, or any kind of outside work that is done where there are rooms full of people, such as going to the bank. As a younger person and a person with a low risk of getting the virus, I have the capability to walk to places and go in and out of buildings with a smaller chance of getting the virus as compared to one of my elder neighbors. My friends and I can go around the neighborhood and see who needs help during this hard time, whether I have to give them money or food to help them out.

— Adrianna P, New York

Many elderly people in my vicinity suffer from chronic conditions and illnesses and there are others who often live alone. Going to the grocery store or the pharmacy can also be hassle for many. Due to the recent pandemic, people are stocking up necessities however, some people are not being practical and overstock, not leaving anything for others. Fights are breaking out in grocery stores and this is a dangerous situation to put the elderly in.

— Sydney, B

In our American society we tend to be very individualistic. This pandemic has truly proved that point as people do not care for other but themselves. During this time we should consider not only ourselves but the people in need, which are the elderly and young children. Instead of hoarding all the food share some with a neighbor or an old person that doesn’t quite have the ability to run around store to store grabbing what they can. Make sure when you feel ill or if a family member feels ill to stay contained in your home. If this is not an option you could always take your ideas to social media, posting ways to stay clean and making sure we support the people who need it.

— Marley Gutierrez, Pomona, CA

Stay connected.

We could help one another just by the simple ways of: texting your friends every now and then and keep them in check and give them positive reinforcements; call your far away family and report to them on how you are doing and make sure that they are doing OK as well; help elders that are not safe to go out by running errands for them.

— Xammy Yang, California

It’s really important for everyone to stay in contact with others. Be open to talking to people you don’t necessarily talk to all the time just so you can fulfill your own social requirements. It’s also important to listen to others and take into account their feelings. We are all in a time of stress and anxiety about the unknown and we have to just go with the flow and wait it out. I’m stressed about possibly missing milestones in my life, like prom and graduation, but there are others suffering. We all just need to be prepared, stay healthy, and reach out to others.

— Elysia P., Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL

Stay apart.

The most important thing one can do during this time of uncertainty is to protect oneself, that is how one can protect others. By practicing social distancing, the risk of spreading germs or disease is reduced. From within one’s home, much can be done. Keeping in touch with close friends and family, donating money and food to those in need and not hoarding or stockpiling too much are all things one could do to support one’s community. Every little thing counts.

— Francheska M-Q, Valley Stream North

Honestly, as boring as it sounds, staying home is the best way we can help against the coronavirus. The second best in my opinion would be spreading the word and encouraging others to wash their hands often and to not go in large groups. Our number one priority should be protecting the elderly and people more vulnerable to getting the disease, or more likely for it to be fatal. If I were to get the virus, my chances of death would be very low, but I would be most worried about accidentally passing on the virus to an elderly person who might not be so lucky. Staying home, clean, and avoiding large groups is the safest and best way for us to help in efforts against the coronavirus.

— Christian Cammack, Hoggard High School In Wilmington, NC

Stay informed.

During this time of crisis, seeking accurate information should remain people’s main focus. Reading articles from trusted sources such as the CDC and New York Times rather than sensationalized media that spreads false rumors for attention will improve reactions to this scary situation because it has the potential to reduce panic and allow people to find ways proven to slow the spread of the virus.

— Argelina J., NY

Donate to those in need.

We can help one another during the virus break by doing online donations to people who need it the most, not taking supplies that you know you don’t need, and/or offering online support for those who have relatives that have the virus and want someone to talk to. We, as a community, can keep distance and update each other on the constant updating news.

— Marisa Mohan<3, NY

… donate food to food banks or homeless shelters. Food is even more of a necessity right now, so it is crucial that everyone has what they need because some people get their food from school or from work, which isn’t available at the moment. Finally, even if we feel we’re healthy and we’re not afraid to get the Coronavirus, it is very vital to participate in social distancing because it will help society overall.

— Bridget McBride, Glenbard West HS, Glen Ellyn, IL

Encourage positivity.

In my opinion, we should all do our best to help and encourage each other with healthy habits and staying positive. Too many people are worried about the coronavirus. What will happen because of this is more stress and anxiety. In turn, this leads to people stocking up on products and taking resources from other people who need them. As long as we all contribute and help one another, we will be able to keep things under control.

— Mieko, CA

Learn lessons for future preparedness.

I believe that this horrible trouble we are all put into is teaching our younger generations such as me, to be prepared when these unexpected events happen. We can help the elders and take care of them because if we don’t prepare next time then we will struggle to survive if the coronavirus becomes a long term thing. This situation is also bringing our communities together, or at least teaching us to. We can learn to share resources that maybe we have to much of. Just a couple days ago, my grandma had ran out of cleaning supplies and she didn’t have a working car at the time. My family and I decided to give her some of our extra supplies since we stocked up on so much. I believe that we can definitely use this time to help our minds grow and learn new things.

— Becky Alonso, CA

Things we shouldn’t do

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.” -Hippocrates This quote describes my opinion of the COVID-19 crisis. Our communities must make sacrifices in order to overcome the trials we are facing. Instead of describing what we should do, I am going to shortly convey examples of what our local communities shouldn’t do. We shouldn’t panic. Panic causes the nervous system to spark and will create unsettling emotions that will produce nothing helpful for the situation at hand. We shouldn’t buy abundant amounts of resources unless instructed to. Please be considerate towards these people because they probably are struggling a lot more than you at the moment. We should be mindful of others. I am not saying we have to interact with everyone (DO NOT DO THAT), but I am saying we should be kind when we do interact.

— Adrianna Waterford, Bloomington, IN

What Story Could This Image Tell?

In our Picture Prompt, “ Social Distancing, ” we asked students to write memoirs and poems inspired by the illustration above, or tell a short story from the perspective of one of the people pictured. In prose and poetry, they expressed a range of responses to the pandemic , from fear, panic and anxiety to resilience and hope.

Creative short stories

From the perspective of the Binocular guy:

I thought social distancing would be great, no one would bother me or interrupt my work. But actually doing it makes me realize that those things, those pains in my neck that would annoy me, are the things I miss the most. I miss the smell of Phyllis’s choking perfume. I miss Michael pacing around the office. I miss the way that Pam would bite her pen when she was focusing. I miss people. Now that I’m alone in my apartment, I hunger for human interaction. I have taken to staring out the window at people walking past and imagining the conversations they have. Oh how I wish to be a part of them, but I can’t risk going outside. I thought my window would cure my loneliness, but it has only made it worse. Social distancing has hurt me more than any virus could.

— Andrew B., Abilene

It’s another day in the city. Car horns honking, people scurrying over town, and there I am. No, not that person or the other. In the upper left corner. Do you see me? Yes, you found me! The only creature not on a screen. I have never understood why they sit there and look at their own devices. I enjoy sitting on the roof and looking at others. People watching is my favorite, but the only thing that most people are watching is a tiny screen. Everyone is wrapped up in their circumstances. Sick in bed with their computer, walking down the stairs with a device. But I’ll be here, waiting for someone to notice me — just the dog on the rooftop.

— Hope Heinrichs, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

Opening to short story for the homeless man:

It’s so cold out today. My blanket is the only that is keeping me partially warm. Before today, my HELP sign got me a few dimes. That way I could buy some food. But today, the streets are empty. The only people passing by either have masks covering their face or run past me with their hands full of food and supplies. I wonder what’s going on?

— Ariel S., Los Angeles

Cold: That’s all he feels as he’s reclining on a random door.

Scared: That’s what he wants to avoid feeling as he sees people coughing around him.

Alone: That’s what he is as he wanders from place to place, looking for somewhere to spend the night.

Worried: That the door’s owner might make him leave his only sanctuary.

Pity: That’s the emotion he evokes on the few that are brave enough to wander the streets.

Remorse: That’s the emotion that the passersby show when they refuse to stop to help.

Cold: That’s all he feels as he realizes that he has no one.

— Laura Arbona, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

Memoirs in the time of coronavirus

Trapped. The walls are closing in. Someone coughs from outside, I immediately close the blinds and clorox the window. The television is on loud. The person on the other end of the line of dad’s phone is obviously deaf because dad is yelling into our end. In line for the computer, I have been waiting for two hours.

— Allison Coble, Hoggard High School

It all began with just one human. After days there where more and more infected people and everything started to be different. We all thought it isn’t that bad and China is the only one who suffers but we were absolutely wrong … Now there are too much cities which are in quarantine and there are about 16 thousand deaths. I’m scared. And I can#t do anything than staying at home and pray. I often watch videos and try to distract myself. When people ask me what has changed I can say: Everything. The human has changed. The human attitude has changed. Just everything. It’s not surprising for me if you can’t find toilet paper or water. The people are going crazy because of this virus. They know that they can be in danger fast if they just make one false decision. In this time we all have our anxiety. Either we are scared of being infected or we are scared that a loved one is infected.

— jana.hhg, Germany

This pic remind to me that we live in this period. Under from the outbreak of pandemic’s coronavirus, we stop to go out in order to avoid each social contact. So, we stay our home every day, all day. Most of the people stop working regularly and they work from home. The schools and other utilities are closed down and remain still open grocery stores and services for essential products. The whole world is in quarantine. Our effort to be uninfected is captured from this pic.

— Joanna, Greece

This photo shows that even in a time where socializing is not advising, humans are naturally social and are still coexisting in this time of distancing. The way the artist drew this made me feel a sense of separation but also togetherness at the same time, which is similar to the way I feel now. We’re all living our different lives with different situations and yet, we’re all somewhat connected.

— Ella Shynett, Hoggard High School in Wilmington, NC

Its Day 3 of quarantine and its starting to hit. This picture shows us how people are pretty much keeping as much distance away from people as possible. They’re still living their lives normally, just alone. But at my house it’s anything but normal. Every time I touch a light switch, my mom swoops in and wipes it down with a Clorox wipe. When I have to itch my nose, my mom screams at me. But I know deep down she’s just trying to keep me and my sister safe from the virus. She mainly wants to protect my grandma, who is very vulnerable at this time. Its gonna take some time to adjust to this type of living, not seeing friends in person for weeks, or just going to starbucks. But I know that it will all pass in no time and we can go back to living our normal lives. I actually can’t wait for school to start for once.

— Dean, Glenbard West Highschool

Stuck inside with nothing to do I’m really bored can’t think of anything at all :/. All I can do is homework woohoo Cant see my friends all I can do is call Trying to get it all done before its due With this virus I sadly can’t even go to the mall Thinking of you and you and you Can’t wait to go back to school and walk the fourth grade hall!

— Isabella V Grade 4, Jefferson Township, NJ

Poem by The Lady Running With Toilet Paper:

TP TP Why do people have to hoard it It’s the coronavirus, not diarrhea Don’t’ jack up the prices, I can’t afford it One pack, that’s it It’s all I could find To those hoarding the toilet paper You make me lose my hope in mankind

As I rush down the vacant street I pass by some stores Some open, some closed As I scramble past the doors No one seems to be coughing But I can feel it in the air A dull creeping paranoia Assembling into a scare

Up the stairs I make sure to not touch anything Don’t forget to use your elbows Don’t touch the key ring In through the door, drop the TP, wash my hands Wipe down the counter, wipe down the door Make sure to cancel any plans

Sit in solitude Turn on the TV and watch the news All I’m able to think is, “Oh god we’re screwed!”

— Ellinor Jonasson, Minnesota

Is social distancing impractical, when we live at such close proximity, drink tea with the neighbors, or buy food from the Deli,

You could choose to be stubborn, and get frustrated from being indoors, or you could be compliant, And watch the birds soar,

In the end it’s our choice where we decide to look, The dirty wall to the left, or the canvas on the right,

— Saharsh Satheesh, Collierville High School, Tennessee

Student life in quarantine

  • Dutch education

student life in quarantine essay

From group work and interacting with other students in the library to studying independently in their homes, students are losing their connection to the real world.

"Have group calls, arrange online quizzes on platforms like Kahoot or Netflix Party together, this will help you stay sane during this insane time."

Many have either lost their opportunity to go on an exchange program to another country, have proper graduation, or just a normal student life. However, social distancing is one of the necessary measures taken to limit the rate of transmission of COVID-19.

Dutch Measures Against COVID-19

By mid-March 2020, the government announced preventative measures such as events and meetings with more than 100 people were forbidden and all Dutch universities suspended physical teaching. The precautionary measures were extended for a certain period but by the end of April the number of cases began to decline, hence the lockdown gradually eased up. Higher education institutions provided remote teachings i.e. through digital means and from June 15 they made it possible to have the following educational activities on campus: practical lessons; exams and support for vulnerable students. It may have seemed like the end of the world, but students have done their best to adapt to the situation.

Keep Yourself Busy

Here is a reminder that we are all going through a stressful period in our lives and it is okay not to master a foreign language from scratch or complete all your projects within a week. On the other hand, it is a good time to focus on innocuous hobbies or anything that keeps you happy, optimistic, and mentally healthy. Some examples could be:

  • Taking extra online courses: It would be cool to come out of this pandemic with extra skills and knowledge by doing some extra courses online that are free! Coursera and edX are great platforms;
  • Watching Netflix and/or Disney+: It is all right to not feel productive and just lay back and catch up on TV shows (I binged La Casa de Papel in a day), or watch Disney movies because you could never go wrong with that;
  • Cooking/Baking: I was never into cooking or baking but I have some time to learn a few more recipes and you, too, could master some kitchen skills! There are great, delicious and student-budget meals that you can try to make ;
  • Read books: With not much to do, it is a good moment to read more books that you said you did not have time for. Here are some examples of good books which I enjoyed, Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code, Start with Why by Simon Sinek and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Lastly, I would like to emphasise the importance of staying in touch with your friends and family. Have group calls, arrange online quizzes on platforms like Kahoot or Netflix Party together, this will help you stay sane during this insane time.

Studying from Home Tips

Studying from home is a blessing and a curse, you can be very comfortable at home but sometimes it can be exhausting to sit in front of a computer screen and, quite frankly, demotivating to get any work done. However, there are ways to overcome this by making small changes in your current routine.

  • Make a study plan

Just like a meal plan, having a study plan would help you organize yourself while studying from home. Know when you have lectures and plan your calls with your group ahead of time.

  • Clean out your study space

Put your laptop, books, and other studying material in a neat, orderly manner. Remove anything unrelated that you may be easily distracted by, during your chosen study time.

  • Communicate to others in your home that you will be studying

If you are living with your family or roommates, let them know you will be busy from a certain time. This helped me a lot to not be disturbed.

  • Tune out distractions

As difficult as this is going to sound, try not to have your phone around while studying because Facebook and Instagram are very distractive. You will start looking at memes 10 mins into a lecture, but if your phone is away from you then you would not have the urge. Practice self-control!

  • Reward yourself

This is imperative and necessary to keep the motivation active. There is a range of ways to reward yourself, and it could be as simple as having a bar of chocolate, going for a walk, or taking a nap ?.

It is important to take the positivity out of this negative situation. We are all in this together and do not forget to seek out for help if you ever need it. Take some time away from the negative news shown on social media because it could have a huge impact on your daily mood and, ultimately, your mental health. This too shall pass!

Read more about

  • After your studies
  • Plan your stay

Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education - Home

  • Current Issue
  • Journal Archive
  • Current Call

Search form

Follow Perspectives on Urban Education on Twitter

Coronavirus: My Experience During the Pandemic

Send by email

Anastasiya Kandratsenka George Washington High School, Class of 2021

At this point in time there shouldn't be a single person who doesn't know about the coronavirus, or as they call it, COVID-19. The coronavirus is a virus that originated in China, reached the U.S. and eventually spread all over the world by January of 2020. The common symptoms of the virus include shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, headache, loss of taste and smell, runny nose, vomiting and nausea. As it has been established, it might take up to 14 days for the symptoms to show. On top of that, the virus is also highly contagious putting all age groups at risk. The elderly and individuals with chronic diseases such as pneumonia or heart disease are in the top risk as the virus attacks the immune system. 

The virus first appeared on the news and media platforms in the month of January of this year. The United States and many other countries all over the globe saw no reason to panic as it seemed that the virus presented no possible threat. Throughout the next upcoming months, the virus began to spread very quickly, alerting health officials not only in the U.S., but all over the world. As people started digging into the origin of the virus, it became clear that it originated in China. Based on everything scientists have looked at, the virus came from a bat that later infected other animals, making it way to humans. As it goes for the United States, the numbers started rising quickly, resulting in the cancellation of sports events, concerts, large gatherings and then later on schools. 

As it goes personally for me, my school was shut down on March 13th. The original plan was to put us on a two weeks leave, returning on March 30th but, as the virus spread rapidly and things began escalating out of control very quickly, President Trump announced a state of emergency and the whole country was put on quarantine until April 30th. At that point, schools were officially shut down for the rest of the school year. Distanced learning was introduced, online classes were established, a new norm was put in place. As for the School District of Philadelphia distanced learning and online classes began on May 4th. From that point on I would have classes four times a week, from 8AM till 3PM. Virtual learning was something that I never had to experience and encounter before. It was all new and different for me, just as it was for millions of students all over the United States. We were forced to transfer from physically attending school, interacting with our peers and teachers, participating in fun school events and just being in a classroom setting, to just looking at each other through a computer screen in a number of days. That is something that we all could have never seen coming, it was all so sudden and new. 

My experience with distanced learning was not very great. I get distracted very easily and   find it hard to concentrate, especially when it comes to school. In a classroom I was able to give my full attention to what was being taught, I was all there. However, when we had the online classes, I could not focus and listen to what my teachers were trying to get across. I got distracted very easily, missing out on important information that was being presented. My entire family which consists of five members, were all home during the quarantine. I have two little siblings who are very loud and demanding, so I’m sure it can be imagined how hard it was for me to concentrate on school and do what was asked of me when I had these two running around the house. On top of school, I also had to find a job and work 35 hours a week to support my family during the pandemic. My mother lost her job for the time being and my father was only able to work from home. As we have a big family, the income of my father was not enough. I made it my duty to help out and support our family as much as I could: I got a job at a local supermarket and worked there as a cashier for over two months. 

While I worked at the supermarket, I was exposed to dozens of people every day and with all the protection that was implemented to protect the customers and the workers, I was lucky enough to not get the virus. As I say that, my grandparents who do not even live in the U.S. were not so lucky. They got the virus and spent over a month isolated, in a hospital bed, with no one by their side. Our only way of communicating was through the phone and if lucky, we got to talk once a week. Speaking for my family, that was the worst and scariest part of the whole situation. Luckily for us, they were both able to recover completely. 

As the pandemic is somewhat under control, the spread of the virus has slowed down. We’re now living in the new norm. We no longer view things the same, the way we did before. Large gatherings and activities that require large groups to come together are now unimaginable! Distanced learning is what we know, not to mention the importance of social distancing and having to wear masks anywhere and everywhere we go. This is the new norm now and who knows when and if ever we’ll be able go back to what we knew before. This whole experience has made me realize that we, as humans, tend to take things for granted and don’t value what we have until it is taken away from us. 

Articles in this Volume

[tid]: dedication, [tid]: new tools for a new house: transformations for justice and peace in and beyond covid-19, [tid]: black lives matter, intersectionality, and lgbtq rights now, [tid]: the voice of asian american youth: what goes untold, [tid]: beyond words: reimagining education through art and activism, [tid]: voice(s) of a black man, [tid]: embodied learning and community resilience, [tid]: re-imagining professional learning in a time of social isolation: storytelling as a tool for healing and professional growth, [tid]: reckoning: what does it mean to look forward and back together as critical educators, [tid]: leader to leaders: an indigenous school leader’s advice through storytelling about grief and covid-19, [tid]: finding hope, healing and liberation beyond covid-19 within a context of captivity and carcerality, [tid]: flux leadership: leading for justice and peace in & beyond covid-19, [tid]: flux leadership: insights from the (virtual) field, [tid]: hard pivot: compulsory crisis leadership emerges from a space of doubt, [tid]: and how are the children, [tid]: real talk: teaching and leading while bipoc, [tid]: systems of emotional support for educators in crisis, [tid]: listening leadership: the student voices project, [tid]: global engagement, perspective-sharing, & future-seeing in & beyond a global crisis, [tid]: teaching and leadership during covid-19: lessons from lived experiences, [tid]: crisis leadership in independent schools - styles & literacies, [tid]: rituals, routines and relationships: high school athletes and coaches in flux, [tid]: superintendent back-to-school welcome 2020, [tid]: mitigating summer learning loss in philadelphia during covid-19: humble attempts from the field, [tid]: untitled, [tid]: the revolution will not be on linkedin: student activism and neoliberalism, [tid]: why radical self-care cannot wait: strategies for black women leaders now, [tid]: from emergency response to critical transformation: online learning in a time of flux, [tid]: illness methodology for and beyond the covid era, [tid]: surviving black girl magic, the work, and the dissertation, [tid]: cancelled: the old student experience, [tid]: lessons from liberia: integrating theatre for development and youth development in uncertain times, [tid]: designing a more accessible future: learning from covid-19, [tid]: the construct of standards-based education, [tid]: teachers leading teachers to prepare for back to school during covid, [tid]: using empathy to cross the sea of humanity, [tid]: (un)doing college, community, and relationships in the time of coronavirus, [tid]: have we learned nothing, [tid]: choosing growth amidst chaos, [tid]: living freire in pandemic….participatory action research and democratizing knowledge at, [tid]: philly students speak: voices of learning in pandemics, [tid]: the power of will: a letter to my descendant, [tid]: photo essays with students, [tid]: unity during a global pandemic: how the fight for racial justice made us unite against two diseases, [tid]: educational changes caused by the pandemic and other related social issues, [tid]: online learning during difficult times, [tid]: fighting crisis: a student perspective, [tid]: the destruction of soil rooted with culture, [tid]: a demand for change, [tid]: education through experience in and beyond the pandemics, [tid]: the pandemic diaries, [tid]: all for one and 4 for $4, [tid]: tiktok activism, [tid]: why digital learning may be the best option for next year, [tid]: my 2020 teen experience, [tid]: living between two pandemics, [tid]: journaling during isolation: the gold standard of coronavirus, [tid]: sailing through uncertainty, [tid]: what i wish my teachers knew, [tid]: youthing in pandemic while black, [tid]: the pain inflicted by indifference, [tid]: education during the pandemic, [tid]: the good, the bad, and the year 2020, [tid]: racism fueled pandemic, [tid]: coronavirus: my experience during the pandemic, [tid]: the desensitization of a doomed generation, [tid]: a philadelphia war-zone, [tid]: the attack of the covid monster, [tid]: back-to-school: covid-19 edition, [tid]: the unexpected war, [tid]: learning outside of the classroom, [tid]: why we should learn about college financial aid in school: a student perspective, [tid]: flying the plane as we go: building the future through a haze, [tid]: my covid experience in the age of technology, [tid]: we, i, and they, [tid]: learning your a, b, cs during a pandemic, [tid]: quarantine: a musical, [tid]: what it’s like being a high school student in 2020, [tid]: everything happens for a reason, [tid]: blacks live matter – a sobering and empowering reality among my peers, [tid]: the mental health of a junior during covid-19 outbreaks, [tid]: a year of change, [tid]: covid-19 and school, [tid]: the virtues and vices of virtual learning, [tid]: college decisions and the year 2020: a virtual rollercoaster, [tid]: quarantine thoughts, [tid]: quarantine through generation z, [tid]: attending online school during a pandemic.

Report accessibility issues and request help

Copyright 2024 The University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education's Online Urban Education Journal

  • Featured Events
  • In the News

Teenagers are struggling in quarantine. This student is giving them an outlet.

Lauren davis '23 is helping provide a digital platform for young adults to reflect on the challenges they're facing during the coronavirus pandemic..

Lauren Davis

Lauren Davis '23

As the coronavirus became a global pandemic and life around the world changed drastically, Lauren Davis '23 and her friends noticed a trend.

“We felt like the young adult voice was not being recognized, as if these voices weren’t valid,” Davis said.

They decided to do something about it. 

Davis, along with childhood friends and acquaintances from her hometown of Sandy Hook, Connecticut, founded The Quaranteen Collection, a website to air their feelings and provide a platform for other young people. The site is an outlet to share perspectives and focus on critical issues that are further complicated by the coronavirus, like racism and mental health . 

“We really felt our age demographics’ needs weren’t being met,” Davis said. “In recognition of what we’re going through, we wanted to give young people a voice and allow everyone to get out how they feel. There are many sides to quarantine.”

The content consists of essays submitted by students, from middle school to college, that are authentic reactions and perspectives about COVID-19 and quarantine in the students’ own words. Common themes in the collection include navigating the switch to virtual learning, challenges with home life and the strain on teenagers’ friendships and social lives. 

“There are a few general themes, but ultimately there’s a desire to make one’s own story heard,” Davis added. “One of our goals is to give people a cathartic way to think through all that’s going on. Submitting a post can be therapeutic. And these reflections have been heartfelt.”

The Quaranteen Collection has posted about 50 submissions so far, and there’s a growing backlog as word about the platform spreads, Davis said. 

“These issues are real,” Davis said. “Many young people haven’t had a chance to process it, to think through how they feel about it and present their side to the world. We want to help and empower others to share.”

The following is an excerpt from Davis’ entry in The Quaranteen Collection titled “ A Shaky Transition ”

“Now that I’m able to think more clearly, I can see that quarantine is really a special opportunity in some ways. When was I ever gonna have quality time like this with my parents and brother again? It means so much to me to have this time to spend with them and my dog, in the town that I grew up in even if I can only drive around. I’m comfortable here, around people I love, and frankly I’ve always been socially anxious so it’s pretty nice to not have any expectations on me to go out. 

“In some ways, this isolation really sucks. We all know this. But I’ve found that it’s an unbelievable opportunity too at this time in my life to really sit down and think through things I haven’t had the time to, to appreciate my family and the friends I’ve made, and most of all appreciate that I’m so unbelievably lucky to be in the position I am in. I am happy to be home in a safe place with my family who loves each other, I miss school (who would’ve thought I’d say that ever), I have friends I miss every second, and I’m comfortable with where I am and with myself. 

“Five years ago, I never would have thought that I could make it to where I am now, which is something I think about a lot. I’m so amazed at it, and rather than lament not being at school right now, I’m reminding myself all the time to just be excited for when we get to go back and how great it will feel to have everything be normal again. Everything has its purpose, quarantine is no different. It’s just up to us to make it happen.”

Categories: General , Student Life

Browse by Category

  • Humanities and Social Sciences
  • International Affairs
  • Science and Technology
  • Student Life

Suggest a Story

Connect to Brandeis Events

Coronavirus: What students have learned living in pandemic: Student Voices winners

As students settle into their new routines, the appreciation for many things taken for granted becomes more evident. The once dreaded chore of walking your dog or countless complaints of hectic school schedule are now simply not that bad. The freedom to leave your home and spend time with friends is replaced with face masks,  social  distancing rules and sheltering in place.

In this month's Asbury Park Press Student Voices Essay and Video contest, we posed the question: What is the most important lesson you learned from having to live through the coronavirus pandemic?

Below are the winning essays and videos for May in the Asbury Park Press Student Voices contest.

First place winner: Grades 7-8

Simple Strolls

When everything was normal in my life, I failed to appreciate the little things in my life. For example, going on walks with my dog was like a chore without pay. To me, it was forced labor. My dog would tug on the leash, and I would try to stand my ground as we awkwardly avoided what seemed like thousands of happy walkers with their barking dogs. People would walk past us, and we would exchange smiles, but it was very boring because I knew there was something they didn't. There is a better way to use my time, I would think: studying, doing homework, exercising, etc. However, once COVID-19, the virus that changed life as we all know it entered the scene like an unwanted guest,  I was exposed to another perspective…

7:00 AM Thursday / Day Three of Distance Learning

“Chloe,” my mom yelled, “Hurry, we have to walk the dog before breakfast!”

“Coming,” I replied while I trudged down the stairs. As we walked out the door, I noticed the tension in the air.

Every walker was avoiding everyone else by staying six feet away. No smiles were exchanged. (And even if there were, who would know, they were covered by masks.)

My dog frolicked along like a bad deer impersonator while my mom and I lumbered down the streets. The fog made the walk more depressing. At the end of the walk, while we slumped down my driveway towards the back door, I began to miss the walks that I once hated. 

Walking may not seem like much to you, but the coronavirus has taught me to enjoy the little things in life. Before, typical walks with my dog were a bore, but once the luxury was taken away, I began to miss the most boring part of my average day. Luckily, everyone is staying safe. However, when everything returns to normal, I will never take for granted the fun strolls with my dog. I will enjoy the tiny part of my average day.

Chloe LaForge

Spring Lake Heights Elementary School

Teacher: Nicole Kirk

First place video winner: 

First place winner: grades 9-12.

Hot Air Balloon

My room is filled with the carnage of apathy. Three empty water bottles slump underneath my dresser. My drawers are neat for once because I’ve been wearing only pajama pants and the same two shirts the entire quarantine. My alarm clock is the only thing that resembles normality, and even that is different. Before this pandemic, I had never used the snooze button. Now, I use it every day.

I’ve always prided myself on being hardworking and capable. If only I had more time, was how my theme song went. More time to cook, more time to read, more time to have the fun you need, my brain would croon to itself. Now I have endless hours to fill with whatever I please. And yes, I’ve cooked meals for my family and finished five books during the quarantine, but I haven’t been having fun. I do these things because I feel like I would be nothing if I didn’t, like I would be incomplete. Because I’m hardworking and capable, but ever since this pandemic I’ve wanted to do nothing but sleep.

During quarantine, I’ve realized that I’m a hot air balloon, filled with hopeful gusts and shiny blue ideas. I need a tether to keep me from soaring away through the clouds to the beckoning land of nostalgic poetry and YouTube videos about eighteenth-century European monarchs. That tether is studying with my friends, visiting a teacher during my lunch break, practicing for the spring musical so late that I have no choice but to get my homework done right after school. I miss feeling like I have something important to do and goals to achieve. Schools everywhere are adjusting to our “new normal” with standardized testing scores waived and school days reduced to only a few video chats. I feel like someone ripped a hole in me. My hot air balloon is getting battered by the waves of uncertainty, and it feels like only a matter of time before it sinks into the thick grayish water.

If I’ve learned anything during the coronavirus pandemic, it’s that I need the hectic normality of my everyday life. I need my friends and my teachers and those homework assignments that never seem to end. Because without them, I don’t remember how to fly.

Kimberly Koscinski

Point Pleasant Borough High School 

Teacher: Shannon Orosz

Second place winner: Grades 7-8 

Use Your Time Wisely 

2020 has been a rollercoaster of events, emotions and some unpleasant surprises. This pandemic has deprived us of many things we took for granted, such as leaving your house or meeting your friends. It shut down businesses and schools, and it made the busiest cities standstill for the first time. During this pandemic, I learned that we should never take what privileges and opportunities we have for granted; and also to enjoy the little things that life has to offer, such as spending time with friends or going out with your family.

Before the pandemic, back in 2019, I used to take for granted my ability to go to school, to get out of my house, and do things on my own. There were countless times when I could have spent more time with friends and family, but instead, I chose to hide away in my room. Sometimes I wish I had gone out more, that I had enjoyed my free time better rather than just looking at a phone screen. It's an understatement to say that school is underrated. We never take time to appreciate how school affects our lives, and how the teachers and classmates influence us. I indeed enjoy having my own time to do work. However, nothing will ever compare to going to a classroom to learn, and having a teacher explain the topic in detail.

I am happy that I've gotten more time to spend with my family. I'm connecting with them more than I had ever before since it was rare for all of us to spend time together. I've also learned some things about myself; there are some things I'm not proud of, but I'm happy I got to know what they were. Now, I can improve myself and my character to be a better person. 

This pandemic certainly feels like the end of the world. Still, I know that if everyone follows instructions and stays quarantined, we will be able to overcome it. We don't know what the future has to bring, but hopefully, it will be better than what has already happened. I think it's important to understand that despite having a fortune, money could never buy time, so don't waste it.

Maria Reyes-Hernandez

G Harold Antrim Elementary School 

Teacher: Stephanie Woit

Second place video winner: 

Second place winner: grades 9-12.

Lessons In Quarantine

It's quite a strange thing to think about, honestly. Everyday we always consider what we could really do if we had just one more hour of time on our hands. What we could achieve with an extra day of personal work. Yet, in a time like today when we have been suddenly thrust into having so much free time stuck at home, we realize just how much of that time we actually had and how much of it we took for granted. If there was anything I learned from my newly awarded hours of contemplation during quarantine, it's this: we should never take our time for granted. Start that personal project you’ve been wanting to head off. Go out on that weekend evening and let yourself unwind. Step back from those obscene work hours and take some time for other things. 

Let me paint you a picture. Throw away the quarantine for a second and place yourself in the shoes of what we used to know as normalcy. It's a school night, you’ve got a test in a couple of days and, honestly, you know you’re a shoe in for at the very least a B+. Dinner is being cooked in the kitchen a few doors down from your room, and right as you just settled into bed for a nightly study session, you get a text. Your friend wants you to go party with them tomorrow night. You freeze up for a moment. While parties have never been your scene, you have some small spike in confidence and almost type out a response. However, that burst quickly subsides, and you decline. After all, there'll be plenty more parties and plenty more chances to go out, right? Well, while that might be true, it's a mindset that sets us up countless missed opportunities. Take that decision, and now put it into perspective. 

What if that was the last chance you had to ever see your friends in person again? What if that was your last chance to get some time out of your house for two, three, four months? With all that in mind, would you still stay behind? Time is fixed. We only have a certain amount of time, ever, making it just as precious as life itself, something we should seldom take for granted.

Gregory Rivera

Point Pleasant Borough High School

Teacher: Mrs. Orosz

Third place winner: Grades 7-8

The Little Things

The sound of a bell. A noisy hallway. Twenty-two of your peers fills the empty desks. Six incredible teachers, you see throughout the course of your day. It is almost hard to even imagine how a routine so basic can change in an instant. Now no bell. No one surrounds you. You see your favorite teachers through webcams and videos. Your fingers ache from clicking on the keys and you get a headache from the pixels on your screen. After eight long hours of work, all you want to do is see your friend, be able to hug your family and be with the people who matter most. Apparently, that seems like a lot to ask for.

Over these past two months of being stuck inside our homes, we have come to appreciate many things that we take for granted in this world. Now everyone is thinking the same thing, “When can I leave the house”, or, “Is this ever going to be over.” The truth is, it will be over someday. We will all be able to be together again like we used to. There’s no reason for complaining about being in your own home with the people who love you. I have learned to appreciate the little things in life. Because when we can finally go to stores, and eat at our favorite restaurants, you will have a new respect for all the little things that surround you.

Wherever you go on social media, or out on a run, you see these people who completely ignore the rules of doctors and the government who are ultimately trying to keep us safe. I would have never thought that two words could have such an impact on people. Stay home. It is maybe the simplest task that any one person could carry out. But it seems so impossible to people. Stay home with the people who love you. Be with the people who matter. You can go without a haircut or a trip to the gym. Enjoy the little things. An afternoon walk with your dog, or a running workout. The little things. Those are what matters most.

Brady Durkac

Memorial Middle School

Teacher: Lynn Thompson

Third place video winner:

Third place winners: grades 9-12.

Take control

What is the most important lesson you learned from having to live through the coronavirus pandemic?

The most important lesson I have learned from having to live through the coronavirus pandemic is that not everything goes your way. But no matter what’s happening, you must take control of the situation. That means get your work done, deal with what’s being thrown at you in these times, make the most out of it, and never lose your motivation. I find it helpful to invest as much energy as I can into each new day because once this is all over, I don’t want to look back on what I did during quarantine and regret it. 

At the beginning of quarantine, I was miserable, sluggish, bored out of my mind, and sad. I still made the time to deal with the hectic load of work that was thrown my way while also finding the time to enjoy myself by doing what I want. I started working out, making music, editing videos, and watching new shows. I have learned to dedicate the beginning of each day to being productive, getting work done, doing chores, laundry, and cleaning the house, etc. By the end of the night, I am chilling and doing whatever I’m in the mood to do.

 For the time being, I’m gonna keep doing what I can. I’m just waiting till I can be back with the boys and enjoy the last bit of the time I have before college begins. I don’t know what new things each day is going to bring me. But if this pandemic taught me anything it’s to do what I can, and to focus on the things that are in my control.

Rodney Wotton

Christian Brothers Academy

Teacher: Despina Manatos

Honorable Mention Winners

Logan Mesh, Grade 7, Manalapan-Englishtown Middle School, Teacher: Cassandra Capadona

Maddie Scalabrini, Grade 8, Memorial Middle School, Teacher: Lynn Thompson

Tatum Serett, Grade 8, The Seashore School, Teacher: Sharon Villapiano 

Reese Willis, Grade 8, Manasquan Elementary School, Teacher: Andrea Trischitta

Brian Stefanski, Grade 12, Christian Brothers Academy, Teacher: Despina Manatos

Chris Coleman, Grade 12, Christian Brothers Academy, Teacher: Despina Manatos

Grades 9-12

Sydney Cole, Grade 11, Point Pleasant Borough High School, Teacher: Susan Kuper

Anna Roth, Grade 9, Lacey Township High School, Teacher: Sandy Laird

Sarah Caldes, Grade 11, Point Pleasant Borough High School, Teacher: Susan Kuper

Sofia, 15, who plays bass in a rock band

How do teenagers live in lockdown? – photo essay

Jean-Marc Caimi and Valentina Piccinni investigated how Italian teenagers were coping with the coronavirus lockdown, working with them to take pictures using video chat apps

S ome can’t wait to go out again, others don’t really want to, happy to stay home connected to the outside world only through their computer. Some are worried about the virus and others, instead, are more concerned about the climate crisis. To give an answer to this important question, we adopted the same means teenagers use to study and communicate within their community. Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp … these video chats were our eyes to take the pictures, remotely.

Teens (and their parents) allowed us to take snapshots using the camera of their computers, tablets or mobile phones, at home, in their bedroom or where they are spending the quarantine, while they study, read, chat, play music, watch TV or exercise.

This gives a unique portrait of generation Z.

Rami attends the secondary school in Rome. He’s passionate about computers, gaming and coding. Rami is 16 and was born in Jordan.

Rami attends secondary school in Rome. He’s passionate about computers, gaming and app developing. Rami is 16 and was born in Jordan.

I consider myself a very sedentary person . Usually during the school holidays I tend to stay at home most of the time. Quarantine is not affecting what I would normally do with all this extra free time.

One of the things that changed is the shifting of my schedule . Since I don’t have to wake up at 6am , I started to wake up later and later, and as a result I ended up having lunch, dinner, and going to bed at least two hours after my usual time.

The last time I went out it was two days before the quarantine started, with some friends . I don’t feel the need to go out yet.

Viola, 15, attends the International School of Tanganyika in Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania

Viola, 15, attends the International School of Tanganyika in Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. She’s been living there for four years with her parents, who are doctors. She spends her quarantine days studying, learning guitar, listening to music and video chatting with friends.

From the reaction of the Tanzanians, it does not seem people are worried. Here people continue to go to the market, to church or mosques for religious celebrations, as if nothing happened. Unlike Europe , here it is very difficult to ask people to stay at home. Tanzania is a poor country and people live from day to day and earn the little money they will need to buy food. So it is very difficult to ask for a total closure. Here in Dar Es Salaam, water and soap dispensers have been put everywhere and in all the shops the temperature is checked before entering.

Viola attends an online class with her classmates.

Viola sent us some photos that represent her life in quarantine in her house in Dar es Salaam: Viola attending an online class. Right; her father and little brother.

Viola sends us some snaps that represents her life in quarantine in her house in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Here with her father and little brother.

The school has been closed for three weeks. Yesterday, we were told it will be closed for the rest of the school year. Many of my classmates have returned to their countries and so have the teachers. We now do school online from 8.30am to 2.30pm on Zoom. Some of the teachers who have returned to the U S make video calls late in the evening, others have the backdrop of their hometown snowy landscapes, while it is very hot here in Dar!

During the day, apart from web-school and homework, I contact friends, both Italian and from my school here in Tanzania. I can read and listen to music much more than usual. In the afternoon I often take a walk with my dog.

From this experience I have noticed how we kids often don’t enjoy the simple things we have, such as going out with friends. Now that we can’t, we are realising the importance of these little things. Surely, when it’s all over, we’ll be more grateful for what we have.

Alice, 16, lives on the outskirts of Rome and has access to a big garden. This makes the quarantine days easier for her to stand. She’s very good at drawing, and has plans to move to Portsmouth in the autumn to attend an English school year-long programme.

Alice, 16, lives on the outskirts of Rome and has access to a big garden. This makes the quarantine days easier for her to stand. She’s very good at drawing, and has plans to move to Portsmouth in the autumn to attend an English school year-long programme.

Staying at home is difficult, more than anything else, because I can’t see my friends in person. Apart from not going to school and participating in extra-curricular activity, the only different thing is not going out with my friends.

Alice, her sister and their mother make face masks, which are difficult to find in her area.

The connection is often slow and the video freezes, so classes are much more difficult to follow. The upsides are probably the comfort of being at home and not being seen by teachers.

I worry a lot and also wonder whether this virus will ruin my summer . I ’m probably more concerned about the coronavirus than global warming .

Chiara connects with us via Zoom and selects her favourite TV series Money Heist as a background. She’s very good student, she’s a class representative and politically active.

Chiara connects with us via Zoom and selects her favourite TV series Money Heist as a background. She’s very good student, she’s a class representative and politically active.

Obviously I miss my friends and going out, but I get along well with my family and maybe I’ve always been a bit lazy, so adapting wasn’t difficult. Instead of going out with friends, on Saturday nights I watch movies or series with my family, something nobody had time to do before.

I spend most of my days studying, but I also have virtual meetings with my collective mates and chat with my friends, but physically it is different and I miss th at aspect.

At first it took me a while to realise what was really happening, but hearing the number of deaths on the news or listening to the stories of my uncle, who is a doctor in the Bergamo area – where the virus hit hardest – has frighten ed me. But I’m quite optimistic : if we all respect the rules, and stay at home we will be able to get out of this situation.

Chiara sent us some pictures representing her lockdown days.

Chiara sent us some pictures representing her lockdown days.

Sunbathing and revising on the terrace.

W e feel the virus is hitting closer to home and therefore the instinctive reaction of fear is greater . It ’s more difficult to realise the damage climate breakdown will bring . The complications caused by the virus are perhaps a consequence of the climate crisis, as studies show the areas most affected are also the most polluted. On the other hand, the lockdown is reducing emissions and thus improving the health of our planet.

This experience made us realise our lives had become too hectic and consumerist, which is why we waited too long before completely block ing the economy. The courage to stop it earlier would have prevented many deaths.

Anita, 15, attends the second year of Pilo Albertelli high school in Rome.

Anita, 15, attends the second year of Pilo Albertelli high school in Rome. She is a brilliant student and spends most of her quarantine days doing web-schooling and homework. She loves writing and reading but also doing sports. She’s a long-jumper.

Sometimes I feel the lockdown is an opportunity to rest from the fren zy and to try things I didn’t have time to do before. Other times, I feel tired of living like this – and the fact that I can’t go out drives me crazy. I miss going to school, I miss athletics and seeing my friends, but I also feel lucky because I ’m healthy and in a comfortable home. Having lunch with my whole family is new – that was not a daily habit before.

During the day I read and watch TV series. Sometimes I make video calls with my friends, sometimes I draw. We are lucky at least to be able to continue to study and see our classmates and teachers, but there are internet connection problems and distance learning is more difficult .

I’m worried about the victims and that someone I know might get sick. I’m scared that hospitals are overloaded and there aren’t enough doctors . Despite the lock down we’re doing well in the family, but I’m amazed at how much I miss school.

I ’ve learned that life and our habits can change in a second. I have never thought about this before, but in many other parts of the world this often happens. Then I learned to wash my hands very well!

Chiara B, is attending the second year at the Italian school in Madrid, where she lives with her family

Chiara B attends the second year at the Italian school in Madrid, where she lives with her family. She’s a Hollywood film fan and she wants to become a director of photography. Spain is among the countries worst-hit by the pandemic. She spends her lockdown days learning to play the guitar, watching movies and studying.

Since I don’t go out of the house any more and I don’t have any more commitments, life is less hectic. This allows me to think more, but sometimes, I get lost in distressing thoughts ( for example, about our future). I miss being able to meet friends in person very much.

I have more time now. I can write more, work out every day, read and work on personal projects . Apart from web school and homework, I mostly video-chat to my friends.

At the beginning distance learning was exciting . I paid more attention to classes because it was new. But as the weeks go by, it gets harder to stay focused in front of a screen.

I am more concerned about the climate crisis tha n the virus, but it took a pandemic for this phenomenon to slow down, at least a little bit. I keep myself informed, but in a very superficial way. The numbers frighten me enough and frighten the whole of Spain .

Julien, 15, was born in Rome from a French father. He’s passionate about maths and science. He spends his lockdown days mainly studying. He doesn’t feel the urge to go out. He just went jogging a couple of times to stay fit, he’s a high jump athlete.

Julien, 15, was born in Rome but has a French father. He’s passionate about maths and science. He spends his lockdown days mainly studying. He doesn’t feel the urge to go out. He just went jogging a couple of times to stay fit. He’s a high-jump athlete.

The obligation to stay at home does not cause me any stress at all: I am very homely and do not feel the need to go out. School and homework aside, I spend my days mainly on my mobile phone or computer. I seldom go jogging.

The web school works well, we have regular lessons every day (even too many!). It’s nice that it’s easier to consult books during the tests .

I don’t miss the fact that I can’t physically meet my friends . I’m happy even if we only see each other virtually during video calls.

The view from Julien’s room.

The view from Julien’s room..

The living room where Julien does his homework and spends much of his time with his mum.

The living room where Julien does his homework and spends much of his time with his mum. The view from Julien’s living room window on to the courtyard of a residential area in Rome.

I ’m not very worried about what is happening because of the virus in the world. I ’m not too up to date on how the pandemic is developing; I watch the news from time to time. I think when this is over, everything will go back to the way it was before.

Sofia, 15, plays bass in a rock band. She loves horror movies.

Sofia, 15, plays bass in a rock band. She’s loves horror movies.

I have more time to think and do what I want to do when I get back from school. On Fridays I play with a band, but now I can’t.

A screenshot of a chat with friends with special effects provided by the application.

A screenshot of a chat with friends. Sofia is a keen photographer – this is the view from her room, where she spends most of the quarantine time.

Sofia is a very good photographer and this is the view from her room, where she spends most of the quarantine time.

Sofia is likes classical thrillers and horror movies..

The video lessons aren’t bad, the only thing I don’t like is that nobody shows their face – that would be nice . The way we do web schooling is like listening to a recorded voice and it’s boring.

I miss meeting my friends in person , also because I had just started to go out in the evening with friends and that felt good.

Michela has been reading a lot and kept good care of her pet.

Michela has been reading a lot and keeping good care of her pet.

Being at home doesn’t bother me too much. The relationship with my parents hasn’t changed much, we live in the same house but we don’t see each other often, each of us has his own space in the house and we only get together to eat. At least once a week, I go out for a walk with my grandmother’s dog, so I’m not completely segregated like other people.

Michela sent us some snaps of her daily life in quarantine.

Michela sent us some snaps of her daily life in quarantine.

Michela sent us some snaps of her daily life in quarantine.

The daily routine hasn’t changed drastically, the main difference is when I play sport: I used to train in the evening for about two hours with my rugby team, now I do it in the morning for one hour at most, doing some exercises suggested by our coach.

School homework is the same as before, and the whole morning is occupied by video lessons. But I finally found some time for myself, for example to make a jewellery box to tidy up all my earrings and necklaces that were previously cluttered in a box.

I am more concerned about the climate crisis because the coronavirus is something to which we will eventually find a solution, even though it will take a long time . Climate breakdown, on the other hand, is a seemingly invisible enemy that we can’t stop, because it’s not as obvious as the coronavirus, because it doesn’t bring “imminent” deaths, but a slow death of the whole planet. It seems that the world is not focused in finding a real solution for that.

  • The Guardian picture essay
  • Coronavirus
  • Photography
  • Young people

Most viewed

Resources for

  • Prospective Students
  • Current Students
  • Admin Resources

Search form

Essays reveal experiences during pandemic, unrest.

protesting during COVID-19

Field study students share their thoughts 

Members of Advanced Field Study, a select group of Social Ecology students who are chosen from a pool of applicants to participate in a year-long field study experience and course, had their internships and traditional college experience cut short this year. During our final quarter of the year together, during which we met weekly for two hours via Zoom, we discussed their reactions as the world fell apart around them. First came the pandemic and social distancing, then came the death of George Floyd and the response of the Black Lives Matter movement, both of which were imprinted on the lives of these students. This year was anything but dull, instead full of raw emotion and painful realizations of the fragility of the human condition and the extent to which we need one another. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for our students to chronicle their experiences — the good and the bad, the lessons learned, and ways in which they were forever changed by the events of the past four months. I invited all of my students to write an essay describing the ways in which these times had impacted their learning and their lives during or after their time at UCI. These are their voices. — Jessica Borelli , associate professor of psychological science

Becoming Socially Distant Through Technology: The Tech Contagion

student life in quarantine essay

The current state of affairs put the world on pause, but this pause gave me time to reflect on troubling matters. Time that so many others like me probably also desperately needed to heal without even knowing it. Sometimes it takes one’s world falling apart for the most beautiful mosaic to be built up from the broken pieces of wreckage. 

As the school year was coming to a close and summer was edging around the corner, I began reflecting on how people will spend their summer breaks if the country remains in its current state throughout the sunny season. Aside from living in the sunny beach state of California where people love their vitamin D and social festivities, I think some of the most damaging effects Covid-19 will have on us all has more to do with social distancing policies than with any inconveniences we now face due to the added precautions, despite how devastating it may feel that Disneyland is closed to all the local annual passholders or that the beaches may not be filled with sun-kissed California girls this summer. During this unprecedented time, I don’t think we should allow the rare opportunity we now have to be able to watch in real time how the effects of social distancing can impact our mental health. Before the pandemic, many of us were already engaging in a form of social distancing. Perhaps not the exact same way we are now practicing, but the technology that we have developed over recent years has led to a dramatic decline in our social contact and skills in general. 

The debate over whether we should remain quarantined during this time is not an argument I am trying to pursue. Instead, I am trying to encourage us to view this event as a unique time to study how social distancing can affect people’s mental health over a long period of time and with dramatic results due to the magnitude of the current issue. Although Covid-19 is new and unfamiliar to everyone, the isolation and separation we now face is not. For many, this type of behavior has already been a lifestyle choice for a long time. However, the current situation we all now face has allowed us to gain a more personal insight on how that experience feels due to the current circumstances. Mental illness continues to remain a prevalent problem throughout the world and for that reason could be considered a pandemic of a sort in and of itself long before the Covid-19 outbreak. 

One parallel that can be made between our current restrictions and mental illness reminds me in particular of hikikomori culture. Hikikomori is a phenomenon that originated in Japan but that has since spread internationally, now prevalent in many parts of the world, including the United States. Hikikomori is not a mental disorder but rather can appear as a symptom of a disorder. People engaging in hikikomori remain confined in their houses and often their rooms for an extended period of time, often over the course of many years. This action of voluntary confinement is an extreme form of withdrawal from society and self-isolation. Hikikomori affects a large percent of people in Japan yearly and the problem continues to become more widespread with increasing occurrences being reported around the world each year. While we know this problem has continued to increase, the exact number of people practicing hikikomori is unknown because there is a large amount of stigma surrounding the phenomenon that inhibits people from seeking help. This phenomenon cannot be written off as culturally defined because it is spreading to many parts of the world. With the technology we now have, and mental health issues on the rise and expected to increase even more so after feeling the effects of the current pandemic, I think we will definitely see a rise in the number of people engaging in this social isolation, especially with the increase in legitimate fears we now face that appear to justify the previously considered irrational fears many have associated with social gatherings. We now have the perfect sample of people to provide answers about how this form of isolation can affect people over time. 

Likewise, with the advancements we have made to technology not only is it now possible to survive without ever leaving the confines of your own home, but it also makes it possible for us to “fulfill” many of our social interaction needs. It’s very unfortunate, but in addition to the success we have gained through our advancements we have also experienced a great loss. With new technology, I am afraid that we no longer engage with others the way we once did. Although some may say the advancements are for the best, I wonder, at what cost? It is now commonplace to see a phone on the table during a business meeting or first date. Even worse is how many will feel inclined to check their phone during important or meaningful interactions they are having with people face to face. While our technology has become smarter, we have become dumber when it comes to social etiquette. As we all now constantly carry a mini computer with us everywhere we go, we have in essence replaced our best friends. We push others away subconsciously as we reach for our phones during conversations. We no longer remember phone numbers because we have them all saved in our phones. We find comfort in looking down at our phones during those moments of free time we have in public places before our meetings begin. These same moments were once the perfect time to make friends, filled with interactive banter. We now prefer to stare at other people on our phones for hours on end, and often live a sedentary lifestyle instead of going out and interacting with others ourselves. 

These are just a few among many issues the advances to technology led to long ago. We have forgotten how to practice proper tech-etiquette and we have been inadvertently practicing social distancing long before it was ever required. Now is a perfect time for us to look at the society we have become and how we incurred a different kind of pandemic long before the one we currently face. With time, as the social distancing regulations begin to lift, people may possibly begin to appreciate life and connecting with others more than they did before as a result of the unique experience we have shared in together while apart.

Maybe the world needed a time-out to remember how to appreciate what it had but forgot to experience. Life is to be lived through experience, not to be used as a pastime to observe and compare oneself with others. I’ll leave you with a simple reminder: never forget to take care and love more because in a world where life is often unpredictable and ever changing, one cannot risk taking time or loved ones for granted. With that, I bid you farewell, fellow comrades, like all else, this too shall pass, now go live your best life!

Privilege in a Pandemic 

student life in quarantine essay

Covid-19 has impacted millions of Americans who have been out of work for weeks, thus creating a financial burden. Without a job and the certainty of knowing when one will return to work, paying rent and utilities has been a problem for many. With unemployment on the rise, relying on unemployment benefits has become a necessity for millions of people. According to the Washington Post , unemployment rose to 14.7% in April which is considered to be the worst since the Great Depression. 

Those who are not worried about the financial aspect or the thought never crossed their minds have privilege. Merriam Webster defines privilege as “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor.” Privilege can have a negative connotation. What you choose to do with your privilege is what matters. Talking about privilege can bring discomfort, but the discomfort it brings can also carry the benefit of drawing awareness to one’s privilege, which can lead the person to take steps to help others. 

I am a first-generation college student who recently transferred to a four-year university. When schools began to close, and students had to leave their on-campus housing, many lost their jobs.I was able to stay on campus because I live in an apartment. I am fortunate to still have a job, although the hours are minimal. My parents help pay for school expenses, including housing, tuition, and food. I do not have to worry about paying rent or how to pay for food because my parents are financially stable to help me. However, there are millions of college students who are not financially stable or do not have the support system I have. Here, I have the privilege and, thus, I am the one who can offer help to others. I may not have millions in funding, but volunteering for centers who need help is where I am able to help. Those who live in California can volunteer through Californians For All  or at food banks, shelter facilities, making calls to seniors, etc. 

I was not aware of my privilege during these times until I started reading more articles about how millions of people cannot afford to pay their rent, and landlords are starting to send notices of violations. Rather than feel guilty and be passive about it, I chose to put my privilege into a sense of purpose: Donating to nonprofits helping those affected by COVID-19, continuing to support local businesses, and supporting businesses who are donating profits to those affected by COVID-19.

My World is Burning 

student life in quarantine essay

As I write this, my friends are double checking our medical supplies and making plans to buy water and snacks to pass out at the next protest we are attending. We write down the number for the local bailout fund on our arms and pray that we’re lucky enough not to have to use it should things get ugly. We are part of a pivotal event, the kind of movement that will forever have a place in history. Yet, during this revolution, I have papers to write and grades to worry about, as I’m in the midst of finals. 

My professors have offered empty platitudes. They condemn the violence and acknowledge the stress and pain that so many of us are feeling, especially the additional weight that this carries for students of color. I appreciate their show of solidarity, but it feels meaningless when it is accompanied by requests to complete research reports and finalize presentations. Our world is on fire. Literally. On my social media feeds, I scroll through image after image of burning buildings and police cars in flames. How can I be asked to focus on school when my community is under siege? When police are continuing to murder black people, adding additional names to the ever growing list of their victims. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd. David Mcatee. And, now, Rayshard Brooks. 

It already felt like the world was being asked of us when the pandemic started and classes continued. High academic expectations were maintained even when students now faced the challenges of being locked down, often trapped in small spaces with family or roommates. Now we are faced with another public health crisis in the form of police violence and once again it seems like educational faculty are turning a blind eye to the impact that this has on the students. I cannot study for exams when I am busy brushing up on my basic first-aid training, taking notes on the best techniques to stop heavy bleeding and treat chemical burns because at the end of the day, if these protests turn south, I will be entering a warzone. Even when things remain peaceful, there is an ugliness that bubbles just below the surface. When beginning the trek home, I have had armed members of the National Guard follow me and my friends. While kneeling in silence, I have watched police officers cock their weapons and laugh, pointing out targets in the crowd. I have been emailing my professors asking for extensions, trying to explain that if something is turned in late, it could be the result of me being detained or injured. I don’t want to be penalized for trying to do what I wholeheartedly believe is right. 

I have spent my life studying and will continue to study these institutions that have been so instrumental in the oppression and marginalization of black and indigenous communities. Yet, now that I have the opportunity to be on the frontlines actively fighting for the change our country so desperately needs, I feel that this study is more of a hindrance than a help to the cause. Writing papers and reading books can only take me so far and I implore that professors everywhere recognize that requesting their students split their time and energy between finals and justice is an impossible ask.

Opportunity to Serve

student life in quarantine essay

Since the start of the most drastic change of our lives, I have had the privilege of helping feed more than 200 different families in the Santa Ana area and even some neighboring cities. It has been an immense pleasure seeing the sheer joy and happiness of families as they come to pick up their box of food from our site, as well as a $50 gift card to Northgate, a grocery store in Santa Ana. Along with donating food and helping feed families, the team at the office, including myself, have dedicated this time to offering psychosocial and mental health check-ups for the families we serve. 

Every day I go into the office I start my day by gathering files of our families we served between the months of January, February, and March and calling them to check on how they are doing financially, mentally, and how they have been affected by COVID-19. As a side project, I have been putting together Excel spreadsheets of all these families’ struggles and finding a way to turn their situation into a success story to share with our board at PY-OCBF and to the community partners who make all of our efforts possible. One of the things that has really touched me while working with these families is how much of an impact this nonprofit organization truly has on family’s lives. I have spoken with many families who I just call to check up on and it turns into an hour call sharing about how much of a change they have seen in their child who went through our program. Further, they go on to discuss that because of our program, their children have a different perspective on the drugs they were using before and the group of friends they were hanging out with. Of course, the situation is different right now as everyone is being told to stay at home; however, there are those handful of kids who still go out without asking for permission, increasing the likelihood they might contract this disease and pass it to the rest of the family. We are working diligently to provide support for these parents and offering advice to talk to their kids in order to have a serious conversation with their kids so that they feel heard and validated. 

Although the novel Coronavirus has impacted the lives of millions of people not just on a national level, but on a global level, I feel that in my current position, it has opened doors for me that would have otherwise not presented themselves. Fortunately, I have been offered a full-time position at the Project Youth Orange County Bar Foundation post-graduation that I have committed to already. This invitation came to me because the organization received a huge grant for COVID-19 relief to offer to their staff and since I was already part-time, they thought I would be a good fit to join the team once mid-June comes around. I was very excited and pleased to be recognized for the work I have done at the office in front of all staff. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity. I will work even harder to provide for the community and to continue changing the lives of adolescents, who have steered off the path of success. I will use my time as a full-time employee to polish my resume, not forgetting that the main purpose of my moving to Irvine was to become a scholar and continue the education that my parents couldn’t attain. I will still be looking for ways to get internships with other fields within criminology. One specific interest that I have had since being an intern and a part-time employee in this organization is the work of the Orange County Coroner’s Office. I don’t exactly know what enticed me to find it appealing as many would say that it is an awful job in nature since it relates to death and seeing people in their worst state possible. However, I feel that the only way for me to truly know if I want to pursue such a career in forensic science will be to just dive into it and see where it takes me. 

I can, without a doubt, say that the Coronavirus has impacted me in a way unlike many others, and for that I am extremely grateful. As I continue working, I can also state that many people are becoming more and more hopeful as time progresses. With people now beginning to say Stage Two of this stay-at-home order is about to allow retailers and other companies to begin doing curbside delivery, many families can now see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Let’s Do Better

student life in quarantine essay

This time of the year is meant to be a time of celebration; however, it has been difficult to feel proud or excited for many of us when it has become a time of collective mourning and sorrow, especially for the Black community. There has been an endless amount of pain, rage, and helplessness that has been felt throughout our nation because of the growing list of Black lives we have lost to violence and brutality.

To honor the lives that we have lost, George Floyd, Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Oscar Grant, Michael Brown, Trayon Martin, and all of the other Black lives that have been taken away, may they Rest in Power.

Throughout my college experience, I have become more exposed to the various identities and the upbringings of others, which led to my own self-reflection on my own privileged and marginalized identities. I identify as Colombian, German, and Mexican; however navigating life as a mixed race, I have never been able to identify or have one culture more salient than the other. I am visibly white-passing and do not hold any strong ties with any of my ethnic identities, which used to bring me feelings of guilt and frustration, for I would question whether or not I could be an advocate for certain communities, and whether or not I could claim the identity of a woman of color. In the process of understanding my positionality, I began to wonder what space I belonged in, where I could speak up, and where I should take a step back for others to speak. I found myself in a constant theme of questioning what is my narrative and slowly began to realize that I could not base it off lone identities and that I have had the privilege to move through life without my identities defining who I am. Those initial feelings of guilt and confusion transformed into growth, acceptance, and empowerment.

This journey has driven me to educate myself more about the social inequalities and injustices that people face and to focus on what I can do for those around me. It has motivated me to be more culturally responsive and competent, so that I am able to best advocate for those around me. Through the various roles I have worked in, I have been able to listen to a variety of communities’ narratives and experiences, which has allowed me to extend my empathy to these communities while also pushing me to continue educating myself on how I can best serve and empower them. By immersing myself amongst different communities, I have been given the honor of hearing others’ stories and experiences, which has inspired me to commit myself to support and empower others.

I share my story of navigating through my privileged and marginalized identities in hopes that it encourages others to explore their own identities. This journey is not an easy one, and it is an ongoing learning process that will come with various mistakes. I have learned that with facing our privileges comes feelings of guilt, discomfort, and at times, complacency. It is very easy to become ignorant when we are not affected by different issues, but I challenge those who read this to embrace the discomfort. With these emotions, I have found it important to reflect on the source of discomfort and guilt, for although they are a part of the process, in taking the steps to become more aware of the systemic inequalities around us, understanding the source of discomfort can better inform us on how we perpetuate these systemic inequalities. If we choose to embrace ignorance, we refuse to acknowledge the systems that impact marginalized communities and refuse to honestly and openly hear cries for help. If we choose our own comfort over the lives of those being affected every day, we can never truly honor, serve, or support these communities.

I challenge any non-Black person, including myself, to stop remaining complacent when injustices are committed. We need to consistently recognize and acknowledge how the Black community is disproportionately affected in every injustice experienced and call out anti-Blackness in every role, community, and space we share. We need to keep ourselves and others accountable when we make mistakes or fall back into patterns of complacency or ignorance. We need to continue educating ourselves instead of relying on the emotional labor of the Black community to continuously educate us on the history of their oppressions. We need to collectively uplift and empower one another to heal and rise against injustice. We need to remember that allyship ends when action ends.

To the Black community, you are strong. You deserve to be here. The recent events are emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting, and the need for rest to take care of your mental, physical, and emotional well-being are at an all time high. If you are able, take the time to regain your energy, feel every emotion, and remind yourself of the power you have inside of you. You are not alone.

The Virus That Makes You Forget

student life in quarantine essay

Following Jan. 1 of 2020 many of my classmates and I continued to like, share, and forward the same meme. The meme included any image but held the same phrase: I can see 2020. For many of us, 2020 was a beacon of hope. For the Class of 2020, this meant walking on stage in front of our families. Graduation meant becoming an adult, finding a job, or going to graduate school. No matter what we were doing in our post-grad life, we were the new rising stars ready to take on the world with a positive outlook no matter what the future held. We felt that we had a deal with the universe that we were about to be noticed for our hard work, our hardships, and our perseverance.

Then March 17 of 2020 came to pass with California Gov. Newman ordering us to stay at home, which we all did. However, little did we all know that the world we once had open to us would only be forgotten when we closed our front doors.

Life became immediately uncertain and for many of us, that meant graduation and our post-graduation plans including housing, careers, education, food, and basic standards of living were revoked! We became the forgotten — a place from which many of us had attempted to rise by attending university. The goals that we were told we could set and the plans that we were allowed to make — these were crushed before our eyes.

Eighty days before graduation, in the first several weeks of quarantine, I fell extremely ill; both unfortunately and luckily, I was isolated. All of my roommates had moved out of the student apartments leaving me with limited resources, unable to go to the stores to pick up medicine or food, and with insufficient health coverage to afford a doctor until my throat was too swollen to drink water. For nearly three weeks, I was stuck in bed, I was unable to apply to job deadlines, reach out to family, and have contact with the outside world. I was forgotten.

Forty-five days before graduation, I had clawed my way out of illness and was catching up on an honors thesis about media depictions of sexual exploitation within the American political system, when I was relayed the news that democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden was accused of sexual assault. However, when reporting this news to close friends who had been devastated and upset by similar claims against past politicians, they all were too tired and numb from the quarantine to care. Just as I had written hours before reading the initial story, history was repeating, and it was not only I who COVID-19 had forgotten, but now survivors of violence.

After this revelation, I realize the silencing factor that COVID-19 has. Not only does it have the power to terminate the voices of our older generations, but it has the power to silence and make us forget the voices of every generation. Maybe this is why social media usage has gone up, why we see people creating new social media accounts, posting more, attempting to reach out to long lost friends. We do not want to be silenced, moreover, we cannot be silenced. Silence means that we have been forgotten and being forgotten is where injustice and uncertainty occurs. By using social media, pressing like on a post, or even sending a hate message, means that someone cares and is watching what you are doing. If there is no interaction, I am stuck in the land of indifference.

This is a place that I, and many others, now reside, captured and uncertain. In 2020, my plan was to graduate Cum Laude, dean's honor list, with three honors programs, three majors, and with research and job experience that stretched over six years. I would then go into my first year of graduate school, attempting a dual Juris Doctorate. I would be spending my time experimenting with new concepts, new experiences, and new relationships. My life would then be spent giving a microphone to survivors of domestic violence and sex crimes. However, now the plan is wiped clean, instead I sit still bound to graduate in 30 days with no home to stay, no place to work, and no future education to come back to. I would say I am overly qualified, but pandemic makes me lost in a series of names and masked faces.

Welcome to My Cage: The Pandemic and PTSD

student life in quarantine essay

When I read the campuswide email notifying students of the World Health Organization’s declaration of the coronavirus pandemic, I was sitting on my couch practicing a research presentation I was going to give a few hours later. For a few minutes, I sat there motionless, trying to digest the meaning of the words as though they were from a language other than my own, familiar sounds strung together in way that was wholly unintelligible to me. I tried but failed to make sense of how this could affect my life. After the initial shock had worn off, I mobilized quickly, snapping into an autopilot mode of being I knew all too well. I began making mental checklists, sharing the email with my friends and family, half of my brain wondering if I should make a trip to the grocery store to stockpile supplies and the other half wondering how I was supposed take final exams in the midst of so much uncertainty. The most chilling realization was knowing I had to wait powerlessly as the fate of the world unfolded, frozen with anxiety as I figured out my place in it all.

These feelings of powerlessness and isolation are familiar bedfellows for me. Early October of 2015, shortly after beginning my first year at UCI, I was diagnosed with Post-traumatic Stress Disorder. Despite having had years of psychological treatment for my condition, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Eye Movement Desensitization and Retraining, the flashbacks, paranoia, and nightmares still emerge unwarranted. People have referred to the pandemic as a collective trauma. For me, the pandemic has not only been a collective trauma, it has also been the reemergence of a personal trauma. The news of the pandemic and the implications it has for daily life triggered a reemergence of symptoms that were ultimately ignited by the overwhelming sense of helplessness that lies in waiting, as I suddenly find myself navigating yet another situation beyond my control. Food security, safety, and my sense of self have all been shaken by COVID-19.

The first few weeks after UCI transitioned into remote learning and the governor issued the stay-at-home order, I hardly got any sleep. My body was cycling through hypervigilance and derealization, and my sleep was interrupted by intrusive nightmares oscillating between flashbacks and frightening snippets from current events. Any coping methods I had developed through hard-won efforts over the past few years — leaving my apartment for a change of scenery, hanging out with friends, going to the gym — were suddenly made inaccessible to me due to the stay-at-home orders, closures of non-essential businesses, and many of my friends breaking their campus leases to move back to their family homes. So for me, learning to cope during COVID-19 quarantine means learning to function with my re-emerging PTSD symptoms and without my go-to tools. I must navigate my illness in a rapidly evolving world, one where some of my internalized fears, such as running out of food and living in an unsafe world, are made progressively more external by the minute and broadcasted on every news platform; fears that I could no longer escape, being confined in the tight constraints of my studio apartment’s walls. I cannot shake the devastating effects of sacrifice that I experience as all sense of control has been stripped away from me.

However, amidst my mental anguish, I have realized something important—experiencing these same PTSD symptoms during a global pandemic feels markedly different than it did years ago. Part of it might be the passage of time and the growth in my mindset, but there is something else that feels very different. Currently, there is widespread solidarity and support for all of us facing the chaos of COVID-19, whether they are on the frontlines of the fight against the illness or they are self-isolating due to new rules, restrictions, and risks. This was in stark contrast to what it was like to have a mental disorder. The unity we all experience as a result of COVID-19 is one I could not have predicted. I am not the only student heartbroken over a cancelled graduation, I am not the only student who is struggling to adapt to remote learning, and I am not the only person in this world who has to make sacrifices.

Between observations I’ve made on social media and conversations with my friends and classmates, this time we are all enduring great pain and stress as we attempt to adapt to life’s challenges. As a Peer Assistant for an Education class, I have heard from many students of their heartache over the remote learning model, how difficult it is to study in a non-academic environment, and how unmotivated they have become this quarter. This is definitely something I can relate to; as of late, it has been exceptionally difficult to find motivation and put forth the effort for even simple activities as a lack of energy compounds the issue and hinders basic needs. However, the willingness of people to open up about their distress during the pandemic is unlike the self-imposed social isolation of many people who experience mental illness regularly. Something this pandemic has taught me is that I want to live in a world where mental illness receives more support and isn’t so taboo and controversial. Why is it that we are able to talk about our pain, stress, and mental illness now, but aren’t able to talk about it outside of a global pandemic? People should be able to talk about these hardships and ask for help, much like during these circumstances.

It has been nearly three months since the coronavirus crisis was declared a pandemic. I still have many bad days that I endure where my symptoms can be overwhelming. But somehow, during my good days — and some days, merely good moments — I can appreciate the resilience I have acquired over the years and the common ground I share with others who live through similar circumstances. For veterans of trauma and mental illness, this isn’t the first time we are experiencing pain in an extreme and disastrous way. This is, however, the first time we are experiencing it with the rest of the world. This strange new feeling of solidarity as I read and hear about the experiences of other people provides some small comfort as I fight my way out of bed each day. As we fight to survive this pandemic, I hope to hold onto this feeling of togetherness and acceptance of pain, so that it will always be okay for people to share their struggles. We don’t know what the world will look like days, months, or years from now, but I hope that we can cultivate such a culture to make life much easier for people coping with mental illness.

A Somatic Pandemonium in Quarantine

student life in quarantine essay

I remember hearing that our brains create the color magenta all on their own. 

When I was younger I used to run out of my third-grade class because my teacher was allergic to the mold and sometimes would vomit in the trash can. My dad used to tell me that I used to always have to have something in my hands, later translating itself into the form of a hair tie around my wrist.

Sometimes, I think about the girl who used to walk on her tippy toes. medial and lateral nerves never planted, never grounded. We were the same in this way. My ability to be firmly planted anywhere was also withered. 

Was it from all the times I panicked? Or from the time I ran away and I blistered the soles of my feet 'til they were black from the summer pavement? Emetophobia. 

I felt it in the shower, dressing itself from the crown of my head down to the soles of my feet, noting the feeling onto my white board in an attempt to solidify it’s permanence.

As I breathed in the chemical blue transpiring from the Expo marker, everything was more defined. I laid down and when I looked up at the starlet lamp I had finally felt centered. Still. No longer fleeting. The grooves in the lamps glass forming a spiral of what felt to me like an artificial landscape of transcendental sparks. 

She’s back now, magenta, though I never knew she left or even ever was. Somehow still subconsciously always known. I had been searching for her in the tremors.

I can see her now in the daphnes, the golden rays from the sun reflecting off of the bark on the trees and the red light that glowed brighter, suddenly the town around me was warmer. A melting of hues and sharpened saturation that was apparent and reminded of the smell of oranges.

I threw up all of the carrots I ate just before. The trauma that my body kept as a memory of things that may or may not go wrong and the times that I couldn't keep my legs from running. Revelations bring memories bringing anxieties from fear and panic released from my body as if to say “NO LONGER!” 

I close my eyes now and my mind's eye is, too, more vivid than ever before. My inner eyelids lit up with orange undertones no longer a solid black, neurons firing, fire. Not the kind that burns you but the kind that can light up a dull space. Like the wick of a tea-lit candle. Magenta doesn’t exist. It is perception. A construct made of light waves, blue and red.

Demolition. Reconstruction. I walk down the street into this new world wearing my new mask, somatic senses tingling and I think to myself “Houston, I think we’ve just hit equilibrium.”

How COVID-19 Changed My Senior Year

student life in quarantine essay

During the last two weeks of Winter quarter, I watched the emails pour in. Spring quarter would be online, facilities were closing, and everyone was recommended to return home to their families, if possible. I resolved to myself that I would not move back home; I wanted to stay in my apartment, near my boyfriend, near my friends, and in the one place I had my own space. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic worsened, things continued to change quickly. Soon I learned my roommate/best friend would be cancelling her lease and moving back up to Northern California. We had made plans for my final quarter at UCI, as I would be graduating in June while she had another year, but all of the sudden, that dream was gone. In one whirlwind of a day, we tried to cram in as much of our plans as we could before she left the next day for good. There are still so many things – like hiking, going to museums, and showing her around my hometown – we never got to cross off our list.

Then, my boyfriend decided he would also be moving home, three hours away. Most of my sorority sisters were moving home, too. I realized if I stayed at school, I would be completely alone. My mom had been encouraging me to move home anyway, but I was reluctant to return to a house I wasn’t completely comfortable in. As the pandemic became more serious, gentle encouragement quickly turned into demands. I had to cancel my lease and move home.

I moved back in with my parents at the end of Spring Break; I never got to say goodbye to most of my friends, many of whom I’ll likely never see again – as long as the virus doesn’t change things, I’m supposed to move to New York over the summer to begin a PhD program in Criminal Justice. Just like that, my time at UCI had come to a close. No lasts to savor; instead I had piles of things to regret. In place of a final quarter filled with memorable lasts, such as the senior banquet or my sorority’s senior preference night, I’m left with a laundry list of things I missed out on. I didn’t get to look around the campus one last time like I had planned; I never got to take my graduation pictures in front of the UC Irvine sign. Commencement had already been cancelled. The lights had turned off in the theatre before the movie was over. I never got to find out how the movie ended.

Transitioning to a remote learning system wasn’t too bad, but I found that some professors weren’t adjusting their courses to the difficulties many students were facing. It turned out to be difficult to stay motivated, especially for classes that are pre-recorded and don’t have any face-to-face interaction. It’s hard to make myself care; I’m in my last few weeks ever at UCI, but it feels like I’m already in summer. School isn’t real, my classes aren’t real. I still put in the effort, but I feel like I’m not getting much out of my classes.

The things I had been looking forward to this quarter are gone; there will be no Undergraduate Research Symposium, where I was supposed to present two projects. My amazing internship with the US Postal Inspection Service is over prematurely and I never got to properly say goodbye to anyone I met there. I won’t receive recognition for the various awards and honors I worked so hard to achieve.

And I’m one of the lucky ones! I feel guilty for feeling bad about my situation, when I know there are others who have it much, much worse. I am like that quintessential spoiled child, complaining while there are essential workers working tirelessly, people with health concerns constantly fearing for their safety, and people dying every day. Yet knowing that doesn't help me from feeling I was robbed of my senior experience, something I worked very hard to achieve. I know it’s not nearly as important as what many others are going through. But nevertheless, this is my situation. I was supposed to be enjoying this final quarter with my friends and preparing to move on, not be stuck at home, grappling with my mental health and hiding out in my room to get some alone time from a family I don’t always get along with. And while I know it’s more difficult out there for many others, it’s still difficult for me.

The thing that stresses me out most is the uncertainty. Uncertainty for the future – how long will this pandemic last? How many more people have to suffer before things go back to “normal” – whatever that is? How long until I can see my friends and family again? And what does this mean for my academic future? Who knows what will happen between now and then? All that’s left to do is wait and hope that everything will work out for the best.

Looking back over my last few months at UCI, I wish I knew at the time that I was experiencing my lasts; it feels like I took so much for granted. If there is one thing this has all made me realize, it’s that nothing is certain. Everything we expect, everything we take for granted – none of it is a given. Hold on to what you have while you have it, and take the time to appreciate the wonderful things in life, because you never know when it will be gone.

Physical Distancing

student life in quarantine essay

Thirty days have never felt so long. April has been the longest month of the year. I have been through more in these past three months than in the past three years. The COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on both physical and social well-being of a lot of Americans, including me. Stress has been governing the lives of so many civilians, in particular students and workers. In addition to causing a lack of motivation in my life, quarantine has also brought a wave of anxiety.

My life changed the moment the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the government announced social distancing. My busy daily schedule, running from class to class and meeting to meeting, morphed into identical days, consisting of hour after hour behind a cold computer monitor. Human interaction and touch improve trust, reduce fear and increases physical well-being. Imagine the effects of removing the human touch and interaction from midst of society. Humans are profoundly social creatures. I cannot function without interacting and connecting with other people. Even daily acquaintances have an impact on me that is only noticeable once removed. As a result, the COVID-19 outbreak has had an extreme impact on me beyond direct symptoms and consequences of contracting the virus itself.

It was not until later that month, when out of sheer boredom I was scrolling through my call logs and I realized that I had called my grandmother more than ever. This made me realize that quarantine had created some positive impacts on my social interactions as well. This period of time has created an opportunity to check up on and connect with family and peers more often than we were able to. Even though we might be connecting solely through a screen, we are not missing out on being socially connected. Quarantine has taught me to value and prioritize social connection, and to recognize that we can find this type of connection not only through in-person gatherings, but also through deep heart to heart connections. Right now, my weekly Zoom meetings with my long-time friends are the most important events in my week. In fact, I have taken advantage of the opportunity to reconnect with many of my old friends and have actually had more meaningful conversations with them than before the isolation.

This situation is far from ideal. From my perspective, touch and in-person interaction is essential; however, we must overcome all difficulties that life throws at us with the best we are provided with. Therefore, perhaps we should take this time to re-align our motives by engaging in things that are of importance to us. I learned how to dig deep and find appreciation for all the small talks, gatherings, and face-to-face interactions. I have also realized that friendships are not only built on the foundation of physical presence but rather on meaningful conversations you get to have, even if they are through a cold computer monitor. My realization came from having more time on my hands and noticing the shift in conversations I was having with those around me. After all, maybe this isolation isn’t “social distancing”, but rather “physical distancing” until we meet again.

Follow us on social media

  • Newsletters

Site search

  • Israel-Hamas war
  • 2024 election
  • Solar eclipse
  • Supreme Court
  • All explainers
  • Future Perfect

Filed under:

Read these 12 moving essays about life during coronavirus

Artists, novelists, critics, and essayists are writing the first draft of history.

Share this story

  • Share this on Facebook
  • Share this on Twitter
  • Share this on Reddit
  • Share All sharing options

Share All sharing options for: Read these 12 moving essays about life during coronavirus

student life in quarantine essay

The world is grappling with an invisible, deadly enemy, trying to understand how to live with the threat posed by a virus . For some writers, the only way forward is to put pen to paper, trying to conceptualize and document what it feels like to continue living as countries are under lockdown and regular life seems to have ground to a halt.

So as the coronavirus pandemic has stretched around the world, it’s sparked a crop of diary entries and essays that describe how life has changed. Novelists, critics, artists, and journalists have put words to the feelings many are experiencing. The result is a first draft of how we’ll someday remember this time, filled with uncertainty and pain and fear as well as small moments of hope and humanity.

At the New York Review of Books, Ali Bhutto writes that in Karachi, Pakistan, the government-imposed curfew due to the virus is “eerily reminiscent of past military clampdowns”:

Beneath the quiet calm lies a sense that society has been unhinged and that the usual rules no longer apply. Small groups of pedestrians look on from the shadows, like an audience watching a spectacle slowly unfolding. People pause on street corners and in the shade of trees, under the watchful gaze of the paramilitary forces and the police.

His essay concludes with the sobering note that “in the minds of many, Covid-19 is just another life-threatening hazard in a city that stumbles from one crisis to another.”

Writing from Chattanooga, novelist Jamie Quatro documents the mixed ways her neighbors have been responding to the threat, and the frustration of conflicting direction, or no direction at all, from local, state, and federal leaders:

Whiplash, trying to keep up with who’s ordering what. We’re already experiencing enough chaos without this back-and-forth. Why didn’t the federal government issue a nationwide shelter-in-place at the get-go, the way other countries did? What happens when one state’s shelter-in-place ends, while others continue? Do states still under quarantine close their borders? We are still one nation, not fifty individual countries. Right?

Award-winning photojournalist Alessio Mamo, quarantined with his partner Marta in Sicily after she tested positive for the virus, accompanies his photographs in the Guardian of their confinement with a reflection on being confined :

The doctors asked me to take a second test, but again I tested negative. Perhaps I’m immune? The days dragged on in my apartment, in black and white, like my photos. Sometimes we tried to smile, imagining that I was asymptomatic, because I was the virus. Our smiles seemed to bring good news. My mother left hospital, but I won’t be able to see her for weeks. Marta started breathing well again, and so did I. I would have liked to photograph my country in the midst of this emergency, the battles that the doctors wage on the frontline, the hospitals pushed to their limits, Italy on its knees fighting an invisible enemy. That enemy, a day in March, knocked on my door instead.

In the New York Times Magazine, deputy editor Jessica Lustig writes with devastating clarity about her family’s life in Brooklyn while her husband battled the virus, weeks before most people began taking the threat seriously:

At the door of the clinic, we stand looking out at two older women chatting outside the doorway, oblivious. Do I wave them away? Call out that they should get far away, go home, wash their hands, stay inside? Instead we just stand there, awkwardly, until they move on. Only then do we step outside to begin the long three-block walk home. I point out the early magnolia, the forsythia. T says he is cold. The untrimmed hairs on his neck, under his beard, are white. The few people walking past us on the sidewalk don’t know that we are visitors from the future. A vision, a premonition, a walking visitation. This will be them: Either T, in the mask, or — if they’re lucky — me, tending to him.

Essayist Leslie Jamison writes in the New York Review of Books about being shut away alone in her New York City apartment with her 2-year-old daughter since she became sick:

The virus. Its sinewy, intimate name. What does it feel like in my body today? Shivering under blankets. A hot itch behind the eyes. Three sweatshirts in the middle of the day. My daughter trying to pull another blanket over my body with her tiny arms. An ache in the muscles that somehow makes it hard to lie still. This loss of taste has become a kind of sensory quarantine. It’s as if the quarantine keeps inching closer and closer to my insides. First I lost the touch of other bodies; then I lost the air; now I’ve lost the taste of bananas. Nothing about any of these losses is particularly unique. I’ve made a schedule so I won’t go insane with the toddler. Five days ago, I wrote Walk/Adventure! on it, next to a cut-out illustration of a tiger—as if we’d see tigers on our walks. It was good to keep possibility alive.

At Literary Hub, novelist Heidi Pitlor writes about the elastic nature of time during her family’s quarantine in Massachusetts:

During a shutdown, the things that mark our days—commuting to work, sending our kids to school, having a drink with friends—vanish and time takes on a flat, seamless quality. Without some self-imposed structure, it’s easy to feel a little untethered. A friend recently posted on Facebook: “For those who have lost track, today is Blursday the fortyteenth of Maprilay.” ... Giving shape to time is especially important now, when the future is so shapeless. We do not know whether the virus will continue to rage for weeks or months or, lord help us, on and off for years. We do not know when we will feel safe again. And so many of us, minus those who are gifted at compartmentalization or denial, remain largely captive to fear. We may stay this way if we do not create at least the illusion of movement in our lives, our long days spent with ourselves or partners or families.

Novelist Lauren Groff writes at the New York Review of Books about trying to escape the prison of her fears while sequestered at home in Gainesville, Florida:

Some people have imaginations sparked only by what they can see; I blame this blinkered empiricism for the parks overwhelmed with people, the bars, until a few nights ago, thickly thronged. My imagination is the opposite. I fear everything invisible to me. From the enclosure of my house, I am afraid of the suffering that isn’t present before me, the people running out of money and food or drowning in the fluid in their lungs, the deaths of health-care workers now growing ill while performing their duties. I fear the federal government, which the right wing has so—intentionally—weakened that not only is it insufficient to help its people, it is actively standing in help’s way. I fear we won’t sufficiently punish the right. I fear leaving the house and spreading the disease. I fear what this time of fear is doing to my children, their imaginations, and their souls.

At ArtForum , Berlin-based critic and writer Kristian Vistrup Madsen reflects on martinis, melancholia, and Finnish artist Jaakko Pallasvuo’s 2018 graphic novel Retreat , in which three young people exile themselves in the woods:

In melancholia, the shape of what is ending, and its temporality, is sprawling and incomprehensible. The ambivalence makes it hard to bear. The world of Retreat is rendered in lush pink and purple watercolors, which dissolve into wild and messy abstractions. In apocalypse, the divisions established in genesis bleed back out. My own Corona-retreat is similarly soft, color-field like, each day a blurred succession of quarantinis, YouTube–yoga, and televized press conferences. As restrictions mount, so does abstraction. For now, I’m still rooting for love to save the world.

At the Paris Review , Matt Levin writes about reading Virginia Woolf’s novel The Waves during quarantine:

A retreat, a quarantine, a sickness—they simultaneously distort and clarify, curtail and expand. It is an ideal state in which to read literature with a reputation for difficulty and inaccessibility, those hermetic books shorn of the handholds of conventional plot or characterization or description. A novel like Virginia Woolf’s The Waves is perfect for the state of interiority induced by quarantine—a story of three men and three women, meeting after the death of a mutual friend, told entirely in the overlapping internal monologues of the six, interspersed only with sections of pure, achingly beautiful descriptions of the natural world, a day’s procession and recession of light and waves. The novel is, in my mind’s eye, a perfectly spherical object. It is translucent and shimmering and infinitely fragile, prone to shatter at the slightest disturbance. It is not a book that can be read in snatches on the subway—it demands total absorption. Though it revels in a stark emotional nakedness, the book remains aloof, remote in its own deep self-absorption.

In an essay for the Financial Times, novelist Arundhati Roy writes with anger about Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s anemic response to the threat, but also offers a glimmer of hope for the future:

Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.

From Boston, Nora Caplan-Bricker writes in The Point about the strange contraction of space under quarantine, in which a friend in Beirut is as close as the one around the corner in the same city:

It’s a nice illusion—nice to feel like we’re in it together, even if my real world has shrunk to one person, my husband, who sits with his laptop in the other room. It’s nice in the same way as reading those essays that reframe social distancing as solidarity. “We must begin to see the negative space as clearly as the positive, to know what we don’t do is also brilliant and full of love,” the poet Anne Boyer wrote on March 10th, the day that Massachusetts declared a state of emergency. If you squint, you could almost make sense of this quarantine as an effort to flatten, along with the curve, the distinctions we make between our bonds with others. Right now, I care for my neighbor in the same way I demonstrate love for my mother: in all instances, I stay away. And in moments this month, I have loved strangers with an intensity that is new to me. On March 14th, the Saturday night after the end of life as we knew it, I went out with my dog and found the street silent: no lines for restaurants, no children on bicycles, no couples strolling with little cups of ice cream. It had taken the combined will of thousands of people to deliver such a sudden and complete emptiness. I felt so grateful, and so bereft.

And on his own website, musician and artist David Byrne writes about rediscovering the value of working for collective good , saying that “what is happening now is an opportunity to learn how to change our behavior”:

In emergencies, citizens can suddenly cooperate and collaborate. Change can happen. We’re going to need to work together as the effects of climate change ramp up. In order for capitalism to survive in any form, we will have to be a little more socialist. Here is an opportunity for us to see things differently — to see that we really are all connected — and adjust our behavior accordingly. Are we willing to do this? Is this moment an opportunity to see how truly interdependent we all are? To live in a world that is different and better than the one we live in now? We might be too far down the road to test every asymptomatic person, but a change in our mindsets, in how we view our neighbors, could lay the groundwork for the collective action we’ll need to deal with other global crises. The time to see how connected we all are is now.

The portrait these writers paint of a world under quarantine is multifaceted. Our worlds have contracted to the confines of our homes, and yet in some ways we’re more connected than ever to one another. We feel fear and boredom, anger and gratitude, frustration and strange peace. Uncertainty drives us to find metaphors and images that will let us wrap our minds around what is happening.

Yet there’s no single “what” that is happening. Everyone is contending with the pandemic and its effects from different places and in different ways. Reading others’ experiences — even the most frightening ones — can help alleviate the loneliness and dread, a little, and remind us that what we’re going through is both unique and shared by all.

Will you help keep Vox free for all?

At Vox, we believe that clarity is power, and that power shouldn’t only be available to those who can afford to pay. That’s why we keep our work free. Millions rely on Vox’s clear, high-quality journalism to understand the forces shaping today’s world. Support our mission and help keep Vox free for all by making a financial contribution to Vox today.

We accept credit card, Apple Pay, and Google Pay. You can also contribute via

student life in quarantine essay

Next Up In Culture

Sign up for the newsletter today, explained.

Understand the world with a daily explainer plus the most compelling stories of the day.

Thanks for signing up!

Check your inbox for a welcome email.

Oops. Something went wrong. Please enter a valid email and try again.

A black-and-white still of a man sitting at a bar counter, looking somber.

The Talented Mr. Ripley is a perfect striver gothic. The Netflix adaptation is lifeless.

A close-up of a gold high-top sneaker with Donald Trump smirking in the background.

The right-wing scammers who paved the way for Trump

People in NYC walking in front of the World Trade Center.

What to do during an earthquake, for people who rarely experience them

student life in quarantine essay

Streaming got expensive. Now what?

Emergency personnel stand in front of a partially collapsed building leaning over a street in Hualien on April 3, 2024, after a major earthquake hit Taiwan’s east

We know where the next big earthquakes will happen — but not when

A honeybee on a cluster of yellow flowers.

Why the death of the honeybee was greatly exaggerated

Uken Report

  • Valley Life

Select Page

My Life During Quarantine in a Pandemic

Posted by Nathaly Diaz | Feb 5, 2021 | Education

My Life During Quarantine in a Pandemic

‘Another thing about being in quarantine, it gets you thinking about, well, everything.’

Editor’s note: This is the sixth reflective essay in a series on the pandemic and quarantine by Desert Sands Unified School District senior representatives to the Board of Education. Each student is a contributing member of the school board and participates in an advisory council to the superintendent .

Personally, my life during quarantine has been a rollercoaster. Every day comes with new and different experiences. My day usually starts off with waking up for the required Zoom call, then I feed all my pets and take my bearded dragon Mushu outside for a little sunlight. I go back inside and enjoy breakfast with my parents and older brother and then go to my next class. When that class has finished I either do chores or homework. Depending on the day, I either go to my last class or continue to do homework. After completing my homework for the day, I relax and enjoy my free time by listening to music or talking to friends.

On weekends, I most likely sleep in because I usually work in the afternoons. Work is entertaining because two of my friends work with me and we keep each other’s spirits high, even when there are dull customers. If I’m not working, I’m either watching anime, enjoying music, spending time with friends, or singing.

Other than that, my life right now is just a loop. Keeping up with day to day issues is a real struggle though. You always have to keep in mind to be careful around family, friends, and everyone and everything around you because of Covid. In my opinion, the whole state should close any unnecessary stores to reduce the spread of Covid. The question is, is it worth it? My answer, No. But there’s really nothing you can do about it so you just have to let it slide.

My Life During Quarantine in a Pandemic


Another thing about being in quarantine, it gets you thinking about, well, everything. You think about where you are now,  or how you are now, and it gets you thinking about your future, life around you, anything and everything that affects you. For example, the environment. I started to think about how much pollution there is the world. We’re constantly polluting and yet  hardly anyone seems to care anymore. The effects of that pollution are causing animals to die because of our mess that we keep leaving behind. There are many environmentalist groups out there that take trash and recycling of any kind and they can make it into something new or turn it into raw energy. These thoughts lead me to believe that people care less and less if our planet becomes this giant ball of trash. That is just one of the many thoughts I’ve had amongst quarantine.

Other than those thoughts and the constant loop we´re going through, some things have changed in my life. One of those things being that my best friend moved away, which was really hard at first but it just passed by with little fanfare. Along with my birthday, which was a small group, but I made the best of what it could be. It is what we all do during this time, we try and make the best of any of our situations.

It is what all of our lives have become during quarantine.

Image Sources

  • Summit-Horizon: DSUSD
  • Nathaly Diaz: DSUSD

About The Author

Nathaly Diaz

Nathaly Diaz

Nathaly Diaz is a DSUSD student board member representing Summit High School.

Related Posts

Parallels to ‘The Last Repair Shop’

Parallels to ‘The Last Repair Shop’

April 2, 2024

Watch Solar Eclipse at College of the Desert

Watch Solar Eclipse at College of the Desert

April 1, 2024

College Corps Fellow Pays Tuition by Volunteering

College Corps Fellow Pays Tuition by Volunteering

March 28, 2024

Fast Track to Success at COD [Sponsored]

Fast Track to Success at COD [Sponsored]

March 26, 2024


Right Sidebar Ad – Hero Content Ad


Recent Posts

  • Convicted Felon Arrested for Weapon Possession
  • Clean Drinking Water Coming to East Valley Cities
  • Joslyn Center Certified Autism Center for Seniors
  • Anyse Smith Seeks Palm Desert City Council Seat
  • Desert United Soccer Club Inspires Next Generation

Google AdSense Code

Get the latest delivered right to your inbox!

This is our online store to order advertising products and/or make a donation to support our news. Dismiss


  • < Previous

Home > History Community Special Collections > Remembering COVID-19 Community Archive > Community Reflections > 21

Remembering COVID-19 Community Archive

Community Reflections

My life experience during the covid-19 pandemic.

Melissa Blanco Follow

Document Type

Class Assignment

Publication Date

Affiliation with sacred heart university.

Undergraduate, Class of 2024

My content explains what my life was like during the last seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affected my life both positively and negatively. It also explains what it was like when I graduated from High School and how I want the future generations to remember the Class of 2020.

Class assignment, Western Civilization (Dr. Marino).

Recommended Citation

Blanco, Melissa, "My Life Experience During the Covid-19 Pandemic" (2020). Community Reflections . 21.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Since September 23, 2020

Included in

Higher Education Commons , Virus Diseases Commons

To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately, you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.

Advanced Search

  • Notify me via email or RSS
  • Expert Gallery
  • Collections
  • Disciplines

Author Corner

  • SelectedWorks Faculty Guidelines
  • DigitalCommons@SHU: Nuts & Bolts, Policies & Procedures
  • Sacred Heart University Library

Home | About | FAQ | My Account | Accessibility Statement

Privacy Copyright

The pandemic has had devastating impacts on learning. What will it take to help students catch up?

Subscribe to the brown center on education policy newsletter, megan kuhfeld , megan kuhfeld senior research scientist - nwea @megankuhfeld jim soland , jim soland assistant professor, school of education and human development - university of virginia, affiliated research fellow - nwea @jsoland karyn lewis , and karyn lewis director, center for school and student progress - nwea @karynlew emily morton emily morton research scientist - nwea @emily_r_morton.

March 3, 2022

As we reach the two-year mark of the initial wave of pandemic-induced school shutdowns, academic normalcy remains out of reach for many students, educators, and parents. In addition to surging COVID-19 cases at the end of 2021, schools have faced severe staff shortages , high rates of absenteeism and quarantines , and rolling school closures . Furthermore, students and educators continue to struggle with mental health challenges , higher rates of violence and misbehavior , and concerns about lost instructional time .

As we outline in our new research study released in January, the cumulative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students’ academic achievement has been large. We tracked changes in math and reading test scores across the first two years of the pandemic using data from 5.4 million U.S. students in grades 3-8. We focused on test scores from immediately before the pandemic (fall 2019), following the initial onset (fall 2020), and more than one year into pandemic disruptions (fall 2021).

Average fall 2021 math test scores in grades 3-8 were 0.20-0.27 standard deviations (SDs) lower relative to same-grade peers in fall 2019, while reading test scores were 0.09-0.18 SDs lower. This is a sizable drop. For context, the math drops are significantly larger than estimated impacts from other large-scale school disruptions, such as after Hurricane Katrina—math scores dropped 0.17 SDs in one year for New Orleans evacuees .

Even more concerning, test-score gaps between students in low-poverty and high-poverty elementary schools grew by approximately 20% in math (corresponding to 0.20 SDs) and 15% in reading (0.13 SDs), primarily during the 2020-21 school year. Further, achievement tended to drop more between fall 2020 and 2021 than between fall 2019 and 2020 (both overall and differentially by school poverty), indicating that disruptions to learning have continued to negatively impact students well past the initial hits following the spring 2020 school closures.

These numbers are alarming and potentially demoralizing, especially given the heroic efforts of students to learn and educators to teach in incredibly trying times. From our perspective, these test-score drops in no way indicate that these students represent a “ lost generation ” or that we should give up hope. Most of us have never lived through a pandemic, and there is so much we don’t know about students’ capacity for resiliency in these circumstances and what a timeline for recovery will look like. Nor are we suggesting that teachers are somehow at fault given the achievement drops that occurred between 2020 and 2021; rather, educators had difficult jobs before the pandemic, and now are contending with huge new challenges, many outside their control.

Clearly, however, there’s work to do. School districts and states are currently making important decisions about which interventions and strategies to implement to mitigate the learning declines during the last two years. Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) investments from the American Rescue Plan provided nearly $200 billion to public schools to spend on COVID-19-related needs. Of that sum, $22 billion is dedicated specifically to addressing learning loss using “evidence-based interventions” focused on the “ disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups. ” Reviews of district and state spending plans (see Future Ed , EduRecoveryHub , and RAND’s American School District Panel for more details) indicate that districts are spending their ESSER dollars designated for academic recovery on a wide variety of strategies, with summer learning, tutoring, after-school programs, and extended school-day and school-year initiatives rising to the top.

Comparing the negative impacts from learning disruptions to the positive impacts from interventions

To help contextualize the magnitude of the impacts of COVID-19, we situate test-score drops during the pandemic relative to the test-score gains associated with common interventions being employed by districts as part of pandemic recovery efforts. If we assume that such interventions will continue to be as successful in a COVID-19 school environment, can we expect that these strategies will be effective enough to help students catch up? To answer this question, we draw from recent reviews of research on high-dosage tutoring , summer learning programs , reductions in class size , and extending the school day (specifically for literacy instruction) . We report effect sizes for each intervention specific to a grade span and subject wherever possible (e.g., tutoring has been found to have larger effects in elementary math than in reading).

Figure 1 shows the standardized drops in math test scores between students testing in fall 2019 and fall 2021 (separately by elementary and middle school grades) relative to the average effect size of various educational interventions. The average effect size for math tutoring matches or exceeds the average COVID-19 score drop in math. Research on tutoring indicates that it often works best in younger grades, and when provided by a teacher rather than, say, a parent. Further, some of the tutoring programs that produce the biggest effects can be quite intensive (and likely expensive), including having full-time tutors supporting all students (not just those needing remediation) in one-on-one settings during the school day. Meanwhile, the average effect of reducing class size is negative but not significant, with high variability in the impact across different studies. Summer programs in math have been found to be effective (average effect size of .10 SDs), though these programs in isolation likely would not eliminate the COVID-19 test-score drops.

Figure 1: Math COVID-19 test-score drops compared to the effect sizes of various educational interventions

Figure 1 – Math COVID-19 test-score drops compared to the effect sizes of various educational interventions

Source: COVID-19 score drops are pulled from Kuhfeld et al. (2022) Table 5; reduction-in-class-size results are from pg. 10 of Figles et al. (2018) Table 2; summer program results are pulled from Lynch et al (2021) Table 2; and tutoring estimates are pulled from Nictow et al (2020) Table 3B. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are shown with vertical lines on each bar.

Notes: Kuhfeld et al. and Nictow et al. reported effect sizes separately by grade span; Figles et al. and Lynch et al. report an overall effect size across elementary and middle grades. We were unable to find a rigorous study that reported effect sizes for extending the school day/year on math performance. Nictow et al. and Kraft & Falken (2021) also note large variations in tutoring effects depending on the type of tutor, with larger effects for teacher and paraprofessional tutoring programs than for nonprofessional and parent tutoring. Class-size reductions included in the Figles meta-analysis ranged from a minimum of one to minimum of eight students per class.

Figure 2 displays a similar comparison using effect sizes from reading interventions. The average effect of tutoring programs on reading achievement is larger than the effects found for the other interventions, though summer reading programs and class size reduction both produced average effect sizes in the ballpark of the COVID-19 reading score drops.

Figure 2: Reading COVID-19 test-score drops compared to the effect sizes of various educational interventions

Figure 2 – Reading COVID-19 test-score drops compared to the effect sizes of various educational interventions

Source: COVID-19 score drops are pulled from Kuhfeld et al. (2022) Table 5; extended-school-day results are from Figlio et al. (2018) Table 2; reduction-in-class-size results are from pg. 10 of Figles et al. (2018) ; summer program results are pulled from Kim & Quinn (2013) Table 3; and tutoring estimates are pulled from Nictow et al (2020) Table 3B. Ninety-five percent confidence intervals are shown with vertical lines on each bar.

Notes: While Kuhfeld et al. and Nictow et al. reported effect sizes separately by grade span, Figlio et al. and Kim & Quinn report an overall effect size across elementary and middle grades. Class-size reductions included in the Figles meta-analysis ranged from a minimum of one to minimum of eight students per class.

There are some limitations of drawing on research conducted prior to the pandemic to understand our ability to address the COVID-19 test-score drops. First, these studies were conducted under conditions that are very different from what schools currently face, and it is an open question whether the effectiveness of these interventions during the pandemic will be as consistent as they were before the pandemic. Second, we have little evidence and guidance about the efficacy of these interventions at the unprecedented scale that they are now being considered. For example, many school districts are expanding summer learning programs, but school districts have struggled to find staff interested in teaching summer school to meet the increased demand. Finally, given the widening test-score gaps between low- and high-poverty schools, it’s uncertain whether these interventions can actually combat the range of new challenges educators are facing in order to narrow these gaps. That is, students could catch up overall, yet the pandemic might still have lasting, negative effects on educational equality in this country.

Given that the current initiatives are unlikely to be implemented consistently across (and sometimes within) districts, timely feedback on the effects of initiatives and any needed adjustments will be crucial to districts’ success. The Road to COVID Recovery project and the National Student Support Accelerator are two such large-scale evaluation studies that aim to produce this type of evidence while providing resources for districts to track and evaluate their own programming. Additionally, a growing number of resources have been produced with recommendations on how to best implement recovery programs, including scaling up tutoring , summer learning programs , and expanded learning time .

Ultimately, there is much work to be done, and the challenges for students, educators, and parents are considerable. But this may be a moment when decades of educational reform, intervention, and research pay off. Relying on what we have learned could show the way forward.

Related Content

Megan Kuhfeld, Jim Soland, Beth Tarasawa, Angela Johnson, Erik Ruzek, Karyn Lewis

December 3, 2020

Lindsay Dworkin, Karyn Lewis

October 13, 2021

Education Policy K-12 Education

Governance Studies

Brown Center on Education Policy

Brad Olsen, John McIntosh

April 3, 2024

Darcy Hutchins, Emily Markovich Morris, Laura Nora, Carolina Campos, Adelaida Gómez Vergara, Nancy G. Gordon, Esmeralda Macana, Karen Robertson

March 28, 2024

Jennifer B. Ayscue, Kfir Mordechay, David Mickey-Pabello

March 26, 2024


U.S. Department of Education

Supporting Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Maximizing In-Person Learning and Implementing Effective Practices for Students in Quarantine and Isolation

As the new school year begins, we must provide every student—from every community and background—the opportunity to safely learn in-person full-time. Abrupt shifts to remote learning over the past two school years have affected students, negatively impacting their social, emotional, and mental well-being and academic achievement . They have also exacerbated racial, socioeconomic, and other educational inequities. 1

Data collected before and during the COVID-19 pandemic have shown that in-person learning, on the whole, leads to better academic outcomes, greater levels of student engagement, higher rates of attendance, and better social and emotional well-being, and ensures access to critical school services and extracurricular activities when compared to remote learning. The U.S. Department of Education (Department) is committed to supporting states and school districts in offering in-person learning to all families and doing so safely by adopting science-based strategies for preventing the spread of COVID-19 that are aligned with the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) .

CDC guidance makes clear that K-12 schools should prioritize in-person learning, and that schools can safely operate in-person by implementing layered prevention strategies (using multiple strategies together consistently) in alignment with CDC recommendations. Studies show that schools that consistently implemented layered prevention strategies showed lower or similar levels of transmission than the communities in which they are located. This includes helping everyone eligible to get vaccinated, universal and correct indoor masking regardless of vaccination status 2 , using contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, improving ventilation, and maintaining physical distance to the maximum extent possible. It is important to emphasize that schools should take all deliberate action to prevent transmission and limit exposure within schools by implementing layered prevention strategies; doing so will help to prevent outbreaks and avoid interruptions to in-person learning in the first place . More information on how to protect the health and safety of students, educators, staff, and school communities can be found in the Department's Return to School Roadmap .

Nevertheless, there may be situations when an individual or multiple members of a school community may need to isolate or quarantine due to positive COVID-19 cases. Isolation is a strategy used to separate people who have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19 from those who are not infected or showing symptoms in order to prevent transmission of COVID-19. Quarantine is a strategy used to prevent transmission of COVID-19 by ensuring that unvaccinated people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19 stay apart from others. The decisions to isolate or quarantine should be made in coordination with guidance from state and local health officials in order to keep school communities safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. It is important that students who are temporarily not attending school in-person due to isolation or quarantine (as well as students with other current health needs such as immunocompromised students and families) remain engaged and connected to learning with their peers and teachers in learning from home. Fortunately, there have been some examples over the past year that have shown promise for students and families, which can help inform strategies and best practices for other schools and districts.

This document is intended to support states, school districts, and schools to maximize safe in-person learning opportunities by maintaining safe school operations and to implement effective practices that address students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs when students are temporarily not attending school in-person due to COVID-19 cases.

Part 1: Maximizing In-Person Learning for All Students

Schools are an important part of the infrastructure of communities, and safely returning to and remaining in in-person instruction should be a top priority for all communities. Schools provide safe and supportive learning environments for students that support social and emotional development, provide access to critical services, and improve life outcomes. They also employ people, and enable parents, guardians, and caregivers to work. Though COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred in school settings, as noted above, multiple studies have shown that transmission rates within school settings, when multiple prevention strategies are in place, are typically lower than or similar to community transmission levels. As CDC's science brief on  Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in K-12 Schools and Early Care and Education Programs shows, schools can reduce transmission by consistently implementing layered prevention strategies; this in turn will help students stay where they belong: safely learning in-person in the classroom.

Here's What States, School Districts, and Schools Should Do to Maximize In-Person Learning for All Students:

States, school districts, and schools working to safely reopen schools and maintain in-person instruction should include the following strategies in local operations plans consistent with health and safety guidelines. All of these strategies can be supported with funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP Act). The ARP Act provided states and school districts with nearly $122 billion in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds 3 — flexible resources that, among other uses, may be used to implement public health protocols and policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students and staff:

  • Avoid Outbreaks by Using Layered Prevention Strategies: Consistent with CDC guidance , prioritize offering in-person learning to all students by implementing layered prevention strategies from the very start of the school year. This includes helping everyone eligible to get vaccinated, universal and correct indoor masking, improving ventilation, physical distancing to the maximum extent possible (see below), implementing screening testing programs, contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine (see below), and more. Vaccination is the leading public health prevention strategy to end the COVID-19 pandemic. Promoting vaccination can help schools safely return to and sustain in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports. CDC guidance includes strategies for promoting vaccination .
  • Effectively Perform Contact Tracing, in Combination with Isolation and Quarantine, in Alignment with CDC Guidance: Decisions about when and which students should quarantine or isolate should be consistent with CDC guidance . The CDC guidance on contact tracing reinforces how universal masking policies benefit students, and that use of layered mitigation strategies helps prevent transmission in the first place to keep school communities safe and keep students learning in-person. It is also important to note that funds under the ARP Act may be used to support contact tracing efforts. CDC's latest toolkit will help schools effectively implement contact tracing, isolation, and quarantine.
  • Use Cohorting, Seating Charts, and Other Strategies to Maintain Distancing and Minimize Spread Within School Buildings : Based on studies from the 2020-2021 school year, the CDC recommends schools maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing to reduce transmission risk. When it is not possible to maintain a physical distance of at least 3 feet, such as when schools cannot fully reopen while maintaining these distances, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as universal masking, screening testing, cohorting, improved ventilation, handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick with symptoms of infectious illness including COVID-19, and regular cleaning to help reduce transmission risk. To the maximum extent possible, schools should cohort their students—meaning that they should keep people together in a small group and have each group stay together throughout an entire day to the extent possible. Cohorting can be used to limit the number of students, teachers, and staff who come in contact with each other, especially when it is challenging to maintain physical distancing, such as among young children, and particularly in areas of moderate-to-high transmission levels. Cohorts should not group students by perceived ability or in ways that perpetuate tracking. The use of cohorting can limit the spread of COVID-19 between cohorts but should not replace other prevention measures within each group. Seating charts can also help to effectively contact trace and understand which students were situated next to whom, especially in grades or circumstances where cohorts are not able to be maintained throughout the day (including in the cafeteria). Also, using additional spaces outside of the cafeteria for mealtime seating, such as the gymnasium or outdoor seating, can help facilitate distancing and reduce transmission during eating.

Part 2: Strategies for Effective Learning When Students Are Temporarily Unable to Attend In-Person

When students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person because of COVID-19 cases and remote learning is therefore temporarily implemented, it is essential that states, school districts, and schools put in place policies to ensure that students continue to access high-quality and rigorous learning, that students' basic needs are addressed, and that their social, emotional, and mental health needs are met . These policies should specifically address the specific needs of students most impacted by the pandemic—who are often the same students who have been underserved prior to COVID-19—and ensure that delivery of instruction and other critical services are as high-quality as they would be when delivered in person.

States, school districts, and schools should pay particular attention to the many students—including English learners, students with disabilities, students of color, students in rural or tribal communities, students experiencing homelessness, and students from low-income backgrounds—who disproportionately lack access to the internet and digital devices . These students—and all students—should receive high-quality, technology-enabled learning experiences focused on inquiry, collaboration, and content creation. Funding under the ARP Act and prior Federal pandemic recovery funds may be used right now to address technology needs, including for devices, access to high-speed internet, high-quality remote learning platforms, and more.

School districts must ensure that multilingual learners and students with disabilities have equitable access to content provided via the school's technology or as part of the school's educational program. Federal disability laws require that students with disabilities be afforded an opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, educational technology aids, benefits, and services that is equal to the opportunity afforded to others . Given the possibility of isolation or quarantine due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students with disabilities eligible under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) should have individualized education programs (IEPs) that include contingent learning plans for those circumstances. In addition, in all contexts, IEP Teams must also consider whether children need assistive technology devices and services.

Here's What States, School Districts, and Schools Should Do to Provide Effective Learning to Students Who Are Temporarily Unable to Attend In-Person:

States, school districts, and schools working to reopen schools and maintain in-person instruction should consider the following strategies and best practices to ensure all students remain engaged and connected to learning if they are temporarily unable to attend in-person due to COVID-19 cases. These strategies apply regardless of the length of time that a student is unable to attend in-person, including students who may be learning remotely for longer periods of time due to their health status or those of their family members (e.g., immunocompromised students and families). It is important that school districts plan ahead to avoid disruptions in learning and make the student learning experience as seamless as possible, using the preparation measures and strategies outlined below. All of these strategies may be supported with funding from the ARP Act through the ESSER funds described above and many are outlined in greater detail, with examples and resources, in Volume 2 of the Department's COVID-19 Handbook .

  • Have a Plan in Advance and Communicate It with Students, Families, and Staff : Before any changes to instructional modality take place, school districts and schools should engage educators, staff, and families in a proactive, accessible, and ongoing planning, implementation, and continuous improvement process that includes frequent communications about what roles and responsibilities everyone will play in preventing transmission and—if necessary—how students will learn if they are temporarily unable to attend school in-person. School districts and schools should communicate their plans regularly and adjust as needed. Planning should include ensuring adequate staffing to meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of all students regardless of where they are learning. Schools can increase their staff capacity using funds from the ARP Act, including by hiring additional teachers, engaging parent coordinators and community liaisons to communicate with families before and during any periods when students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to COVID-19 cases, and implementing the strategies listed throughout this document and the Department's other resources (linked below).
  • Ensure Rigorous and Rich Content for All Students : Provide rigorous instructional materials, including online content, that appropriately meet students where they are (whether ahead or behind) in order to meaningfully engage, enrich, challenge, and support them in effectively continuing their academic progress toward proficiency and beyond. These materials must provide appropriate language services and supports to multilingual learners, including ensuring that the rigorous online curricular content provided to other students is likewise available, on devices in multiple languages, to multilingual learners. To support students with disabilities, schools should ensure all material is accessible and must facilitate access to instruction and content , such as by ensuring websites and materials are compatible with screen reader software and providing accurate captioning and sign language interpreting for video content and video instruction. In addition, the professional development strategies described below can help schools use technology in ways that support students who are performing at different levels, such as by leveraging technology to support one-on-one or small group work with students and by using student-centered learning models.
  • Address Technology Access : Be prepared in advance to ensure technology access so that instruction can begin immediately if a student is temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to COVID-19 cases, including ensuring access to individual devices for each student in the household, assistive technology (as needed), high-speed internet access, and technical support (including technical support for educators and staff). The ARP Act's ESSER funds may support all of these efforts. Laptops, tablets, and home internet access for students can also be purchased using funds received from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund . Conduct ongoing needs assessments, including through the use of student surveys , to determine the extent to which students have access to high-speed internet and devices and the quality of access. Additional resources are available from the Department's Office of Educational Technology . Schools can also support families in accessing discounted broadband and devices through the FCC's Emergency Broadband Benefit Program . All families with a child who is currently receiving or has received free or reduced-price school meal program benefits in the last two years qualify.
  • Meet Basic Needs and Provide Intensive Virtual Support : Provide access to food and nutritional support, including through school meal programs and the Pandemic EBT program, during periods when students are unable to access school buildings to ensure that families' basic needs are met. Supported by flexibility from the U.S. Department of Agriculture , important food distribution models include curbside distribution, home delivery, school bus route delivery, and delivery to accessible community locations (such as library parking lots) that parents can access during periods when students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to COVID-19 cases. Funds under the ARP Act may be used, among other purposes, to increase staff capacity and cover additional labor costs associated with school meal service equipment and supplies, meal packaging, and transportation services in order to ensure meal access and enhance distribution. In addition, states, school districts, and schools should ensure that school counselors, nurses, and other school personnel provide intensive virtual support to students and families to meet their heightened needs.
  • Engage Families : Prioritize ongoing student and family engagement throughout any periods when students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to COVID-19 cases to ensure a personal touch point between the school and families each day. By involving a range of school professionals in this outreach (so that teachers alone do not bear the responsibility), students can more seamlessly return to in-person instruction and families will have resources to support their children's learning. Provide support, such as tutorials, on the use of devices, tools, and platforms made available by the school. Information must be communicated to limited English proficient parents in a language they can understand, and schools should effectively and accessibly communicate all information to parents with disabilities. Robust family engagement should also include preparing high school seniors to successfully transition to college and the workforce, including through support for FAFSA completion .
  • Prioritize Live Teacher and Peer Interaction : High-quality learning while students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person includes both daily live interaction between students and their teachers and daily and frequent live interaction between students and their peers in order to support student well-being and maintain strong school communities and relationships. Schools should maximize the amount of live instruction offered to their students and should develop plans to ensure daily touch points with their students in live sessions, one-on-one, or in small groups, and in other ways where students are receiving education and direct outreach from a caring adult daily. Schools should adopt consistent teaching strategies that maximize student participation and collaboration and support social-emotional learning across learning modalities. Whenever possible, plans should avoid situations where teachers are expected to address both students in-person and those who are temporarily unable to attend school in-person due to COVID-19 cases simultaneously, and ARP Act funds can be used to expand staff to support students in all learning modalities.
  • Support Educators : Provide extensive ongoing professional development, starting in advance, including opportunities for collaboration—such as through common planning time, instructional coaching, and professional learning communities—and supports for all relevant staff to ensure ongoing readiness and effectiveness. Professional learning opportunities can empower educators to effectively use technology to support student learning. Recent studies have found that teacher professional learning in technology is the most significant predictor of the type and quality of classroom technology use by students. In addition, professional development should prioritize trauma-informed care and teaching practices and help educators build more equitable and inclusive approaches to school climate, especially as they work to reengage students in the safe return to school. Teachers should also be supported to provide instruction that is flexible in case one or more students are temporarily unable to attend school in-person.
  • Support Social, Emotional, and Mental Health : Implement strategies that explicitly address students' social, emotional, and mental health needs and encourage common planning time among educators and staff. Schools should explicitly teach critical social, emotional, and academic skills and promote safe and supportive learning environments through intentionally inclusive practices, among other evidence-based strategies. In addition, while a schoolwide approach benefits all students, school-based mental health professionals such as counselors, social workers, and psychologists might need to provide additional and more intensive support to students with the most urgent needs that have been caused or exacerbated by the pandemic. This could include addressing the disproportionate impact of social isolation on communities including LGBTQ+ students and students experiencing homelessness. A multi-tiered system of supports ( MTSS ) framework, like positive behavioral interventions and supports, relies on a continuum of evidence-based practices matched to student needs. School districts and schools should also support the social, emotional, and mental health needs of all staff.

Links to Resources

Department resources to support implementation of these strategies can be found here:

  • Return to School Roadmap: A Guide for K-12 Schools and Communities for the 2021-2022 School Year
  • The COVID-19 Handbook Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • The COVID-19 Handbook Volume 2: Roadmap to Reopening Safely and Meeting All Students' Needs
  • Strategies for Using American Rescue Plan Funding to Address the Impact of Lost Instructional Time
  • The Home Access Playbook: Strategies for State Leaders Working to Bridge the Digital Divide for Students
  • Keeping Students Connected and Learning: Strategies for Deploying School District Wireless Networks as a Sustainable Solution to Connect Students at Home
  • How Coaches Can Support Powerful Learning with Technology Blog Series
  • Guidance on the use of Federal pandemic recovery funds

1 Other than statutory and regulatory requirements included in the document, the contents of this guidance do not have the force and effect of law and are not meant to bind the public. This document is intended only to provide clarity to the public regarding existing requirements under the law or agency policies.

2 Under Federal disability laws, exceptions can be made on an individual basis for a person who cannot wear a mask or cannot safely wear a mask because of a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. 12101, et seq.). See .

3 Districts and schools may use funding under the ARP Act to prevent, prepare for, or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, consistent with ARP Act requirements and the Uniform Guidance in 2 CFR Part 200. For more information on allowable uses of funds under ESSER, see FAQs .

How Do I Find...?

  • Student loans, forgiveness
  • Higher Education Rulemaking
  • College accreditation
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)
  • 1098, tax forms

Information About...

  • Elevating Teaching
  • Early Learning
  • Engage Every Student
  • Unlocking Career Success
  • Cybersecurity

Click through the PLOS taxonomy to find articles in your field.

For more information about PLOS Subject Areas, click here .

Loading metrics

Open Access


Research Article

Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on university students: Understanding apprehensions through a phenomenographic approach

Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing – original draft

Affiliation Department of Public Health, Institute of Social and Cultural Studies, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Roles Data curation, Formal analysis, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation Department of Architecture, University College of Art and Design, University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan

Roles Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Supervision, Writing – review & editing

Roles Formal analysis, Supervision, Writing – review & editing

* E-mail: [email protected]

¶ ‡ These authors are joint senior authorship on this work.

Affiliations Institute of Public Health, Charité –Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany, Institute of Gerontological Health Services and Nursing Research, Ravensburg-Weingarten University of Applied Sciences, Weingarten, Germany

ORCID logo

Roles Supervision, Writing – review & editing

Affiliation University of Okara, Okara, Pakistan

  • Sumbal Shahbaz, 
  • Muhammad Zeshan Ashraf, 
  • Rubeena Zakar, 
  • Florian Fischer, 
  • Muhammad Zakria Zakar


  • Published: May 13, 2021
  • Reader Comments

Fig 1

Limited evidence exists to help understand the experiences of university students in relation to the long-term lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For that reason, we conducted a study using a phenomenographic approach in order to understand how university students perceive COVID-19 and the associated lockdown. Data were collected from 25 students in Pakistan. They were asked to demonstrate the psychological effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in illustrations. In addition, in-depth interviews were conducted with these students, to gain further insights into their perspectives on the psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis revealed four interlinked directions for understanding students’ experiences. These themes were: 1) escape into peace, 2) hope for personal freedom, 3) fear of becoming a victim of COVID-19, and 4) concerns regarding education, future career, and opportunities. All four themes were analyzed and condensed into an outcome space, which further gathers the perceptions of students under one theme as “Hope for life while paradoxically living with fear”. Studying the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on students not only highlighted their concerns, but also emphasized the importance of starting regular psychological evaluations and stress-releasing sessions, along with online education to overcome growing depression.

Citation: Shahbaz S, Ashraf MZ, Zakar R, Fischer F, Zakar MZ (2021) Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on university students: Understanding apprehensions through a phenomenographic approach. PLoS ONE 16(5): e0251641.

Editor: Christian Schubert, Medical University Innsbruck, AUSTRIA

Received: August 18, 2020; Accepted: April 30, 2021; Published: May 13, 2021

Copyright: © 2021 Shahbaz et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Data Availability: The relevant data are the illustrations presented in Figs 1 – 26 within the manuscript.

Funding: We acknowledge support from the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

COVID-19 is a public health emergency of international concern [ 1 ]. Its symptoms range from minor to severe pneumonia and Acute Respiratory Disease Syndrome (ARDS), to septic shock, and in some cases multiple organ failure [ 2 ]. A rapid increase in the number of suspected and confirmed cases was verified in various countries, which proved this pandemic to be more easily transmittable than SARS. About 22% of reported COVID-19 cases and more than 80% of reported COVID-19 deaths have been among older adults. Specific comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, chronic underlying lung or heart disease, immune-compromising conditions/treatments), low socioeconomic status (i.e., poor access to good-quality healthcare facilities), and high population density all worsen the situation [ 3 ]. Moreover, there is great unpredictability among all age groups related to whom the disease will affect more severely and how long it will last. This enforces feelings of ambiguity and insecurity, as well as amplifying stress levels among communities [ 4 ]. Therefore, it is a global challenge and threat to public health security [ 5 , 6 ].

Due to this pandemic situation, not only are health-care providers overburdened, but public health departments all over the world initially recommended physical distancing and later on massive lockdowns due to the ongoing spread of the virus within the public [ 7 ]. Lockdown is a term substitute for mass quarantine, which could include the order to stay at home, thus limiting or entirely obliterating the movement of individuals. Hence, the pandemic poses psychological pressure not only on COVID-19 patients and their relatives, but also on the healthy population [ 8 ].

When implemented as a control strategy affecting a massive number of people, lockdowns lead to challenges such as the questions of how long these actions are needed and how to separate suspected cases from healthy individuals [ 9 ]. In addition, tough regulatory measures, such as restraining social life in community spaces by closing down public and private organizations, temporarily closing educational institutes and businesses for non-critical goods, and strict curfews imposed with the help of the police or army have major adverse socio-economic and psychosocial implications [ 10 ].

The mental health of students at universities and professional institutes is anticipated to be influenced by the pandemic and its associated political actions in terms of severe quarantine measures and postponements of the opening of educational institutes throughout the world. There are studies available on the psychological and socio-economic influences of the COVID-19 pandemic on health-care personnel, adults, and children [ 11 – 13 ]. However, until now no comprehensive qualitative research has been conducted on the mental wellbeing of young university students facing the pandemic and lockdowns to gain insight into their fears and reservations [ 14 ].

When considering the phenomenon of physical distancing or quarantining, it is essential to realize that it comes with a significant personal cost and disrupts the physical and mental wellbeing of those facing it. It involves reduced social contact with friends and family, as well as confinement to a specific space. Even though these precautionary measures are essential for reducing the pressure on health-care systems, the troublesome part is that extended home quarantine due to any infectious outbreak might damage the physical and mental wellbeing of people facing it [ 7 , 15 ]. It can decrease participation in physical and satisfying activities as well as intensifying stress levels caused by social isolation [ 16 ].

As Pakistan is among the countries most affected by COVID-19 (according to statistics from July 2020), the government is conscious of the urgent need for action. Hence, a nationwide lockdown was initiated on March 23, 2020 [ 6 ], and educational institutes were closed on March 14, 2020. This had an impact on all students in terms of decreases in physical activity, increased screen time, weight gain, and uncertainty about higher education and career development [ 17 ].

From the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, feelings of anxiety and fear were common among the community [ 18 ]. The misery of anticipating death nearby and the hope of surviving this difficult period were common. Pandemics trigger a broad range of psychiatric disturbances, such as anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, bad temper, and melancholy or depression. All of these appear to have a large impact on university students [ 19 ]. Therefore, this study aims to understand the psychosocial effects of COVID-19 and the associated lockdown on university students in Pakistan. These effects are witnessed through investigating artistic illustrations which can not only convey an insider’s perspective on Pakistani students but can also provide an innovative method for collecting profound qualitative data during specific periods, such as a pandemic. The study narrates a story of socially constrained youngsters and provides an insight into their feelings and expectations. Thus, it allows us to define diverse ways in which this practice generates meaning.

Materials and methods

Study design.

To gain an insight into the practices and apprehensions of university students during the COVID-19 lockdown, a phenomenographic methodology was adopted. Phenomenography is a type of qualitative methodology that is used to define disparities among people’s understandings and conceptualizations in their own way [ 20 ]. It defines the ways in which a set of people constrained by specific circumstances understand their experience(s), and readers are provided with possible variations in the ways of understanding the same phenomena. The aim of this methodology is to determine various understandings or knowledge about certain phenomena. The researcher is devoted to developing a philosophical meaning in addition to being cautious about unfolding the means by which experience is assumed [ 21 ].

Phenomenographic investigations are usually expressed as categories of description or themes which portray the core meaning of concepts and the ways in which they could be analyzed, labelled, and understood. It could also be considered as an abstract tool to symbolize and summarize different understandings of phenomena identified through the analysis of data. An outcome space is then used to represent the logical relationships between different identified themes. According to Marton [ 20 ], an outcome space is an empirical map of the different ways in which people perceive and understand various aspects of the world around them.

This study uses illustrations to express understandings of lockdown and COVID-19. Although this is an uncommon method, it is an acknowledged research method in phenomenography [ 21 ]. The illustrations present a creative manifestation, revealing the associations made by university students in Pakistan facing pandemic restrictions and experiencing lockdowns. Each illustration in our study conveyed the associations of the participant and his or her understanding of the phenomena [ 20 , 21 ]. Illustrations served as the data, which symbolized mutual reflections of the meaning.

Participants were selected randomly from different departments of the University College of Art and Design at the University of the Punjab in Lahore, Pakistan. The selection of these students is justified because: 1) art students studying at this institution come from all over Pakistan, 2) they have diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, and 3) they are skilled enough to convey their message or feeling in the form of an illustration. Thirty-two students volunteered to take part in the study. However, only 25 of them were able both to hand in an illustration and be available for an online-based qualitative interview afterwards.

Data collection

Participating students were asked to define their understanding of the ways in which they acknowledge their feelings related to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown through illustrations such as drawings. The artists were free in their choice of art technique, e.g. color/charcoal pencils, pastels, or watercolors. After finishing the illustration, each participant was asked to explain the meaning of his or her drawing in an online session.

Further probing questions were asked related to the illustrations. For example, in Fig 7 the participant has illustrated the stress and terror around him by using the color red and hope with the color yellow. The probing questions in this case were: 1) “What actually terrifies you?” and 2) “Please define the hope that supports you to survive.”

After taking written consent from the participants, these explanations were recorded. Afterwards, the statements were transcribed and, in conjunction with the associated illustrations, served as information for the phenomenographic investigation.

Data analysis

The illustrations, supported by additional verbatim clarifications provided by the students, were analyzed. We compared, grouped, labeled, and contrasted the understandings presented in painted form in order to establish categories of description. In the next step, we condensed the categories into overarching themes. These themes depict the core connotation of each concept and emphasize variations and similarities among participants’ understanding of the phenomenon. This led to four categories of description:

Escape into peace

Hope for personal freedom: a world without fear of covid-19 and lockdowns, fear of being a victim of covid-19, concerns regarding education, future career, and opportunities.

The final themes reflected the diverse understandings of surviving a pandemic and lockdown, which were contextually elucidated in the form of a mutual understanding referred as the outcome space.

Ethical considerations

The research was approved by the Ethical and Research Board of the Department of Public Health, University of the Punjab, Lahore (D/577/ERBPH/ISCS). Individual written consent to contribute was attained after rapport building and explaining the study to the participants.

Categories of description recognized through the data–i.e., concepts about surviving the pandemic and lockdown–were analyzed. The conceptual framework originated from respondents’ personal feelings and experiences, which represent a mutual understanding of these phenomena.

Being at peace or achieving harmony appears to be the fundamental basis of hope and positivity. One student described her feelings as “quarantine and lockdowns due to corona are not only breaking us apart socially but also psychologically. Eventually causing the fear of death and at the same time having a hope that it will end someday, and we will be out and free with happy souls as we were before” ( Fig 1 ). The colors in the picture depict the colors of life overcoming the darkness of fear and death–emphasizing the hope for a better and more normal future. Another participant ( Fig 2 ) expressed his feelings and explained:

“We often get weak and stressed out, considering there is no way out of the situation. But all we need is to calm ourselves and believe that everything will soon be fine. Better is always on its way and in the end peace always prevails.”


  • PPT PowerPoint slide
  • PNG larger image
  • TIFF original image


The broken window grills can be seen as a way to escape from the prison–which is a symbol for the lockdown–into a world full of freedom, indicated by the birds outside.

As a qualitative study explores the world through the participants’ perspectives, one of the participants labelled the pandemic and lockdown as a blessing in disguise. According to him, “this virus has caged the selfish desires of mankind. While our dreams have blown away with the autumn of pandemic, animals and nature are blooming” ( Fig 3 ). The participant considered this time to be a feast for nature, which is constantly being destroyed by human beings. Now, when humans are forced to stay indoors, nature is living free of fear and the atmosphere is healing itself. Depression has reached its peak, but so has repression.


Similarly to her illustration, another female participant reflected on optimism, hope and assurance ( Fig 4 ). The sunflower covering the mouth is a replacement for the mouth-and-nose facemask and should symbolize bliss, whereas the yellow dress predicts the eradication of the COVID-19 pandemic. Her closed eyes indicate the wishes and prayers for affected ones, while short hair represents damage to the stability of the earth and the economy. Obscurity and trouble are represented by the black background. The whole illustration delivers the message that hope prevails in times of desperation.


The final illustration under this theme ( Fig 5 ) shows the globe on fire, representing the destruction caused by humans through their actions–depicted by the human hand. The fire is trying to reach the peaceful side, which is enduring with fear. But this fear could be used as a weapon to fight the evil. The participant considers that humans have dragged themselves into this war. Therefore, it is time to correct the mistakes that humankind has made, such as ruining peace and poisoning the atmosphere of our planet. These participants were coping actively with the situation and had a firm belief that things would soon be back to normal.


Hope is the key to survival and to overcoming any difficult situation, irrespective of the misery one is facing [ 22 ]. According to the illustrator of Fig 6 , “hope comes in the form of faith in the almighty or optimism about a life free of restrictions, even though death could be anticipated nearby.” In her illustration, she has depicted fear about her hopes and dreams being torn apart, as well as her faith that only turning towards the Almighty can undo the destruction this disease has caused.


Another respondent described life in quarantine as a new and unexpected way of living. He said that, as a youngster, he felt miserable, being locked in the house without meeting friends or members of his social circle. In his illustration ( Fig 7 ), he has shown himself colored blue. This symbolizes a person who has been happy but now is just pretending to be calm, although in reality he is stressed. The red color in the background depicts the terror and tension around him, while the yellow color refers to the hope and positivity that is allowing him to survive.


Fig 8 elucidates that the earth–illustrated to appear similar to the COVID-19 virus–has been locked up by this invisible deadly enemy which has brought chaos to our lives and triggered economic crises all over the world. The girl wearing a mask represents the effort of trying to save lives and hope that the situation will soon be over. On the other hand, few students showed a high level of optimism. Fig 9 represents strong hope and faith, which the study participants wanted to spread around. These flowers represent the hope of freedom, growth, and positivity, while the angel’s wings are people trying to save others.



Another illustration ( Fig 10 ) portrays the hope among COVID-19 affected and non-affected people. According to this participant, sufferers are quarantined in loneliness, hoping to live normally and feel the beauty outside again as soon as possible, while healthy people are quarantined with their loved ones, stressed about their safety and assuming that outside there is death everywhere. Both now understand the beauty of life without fear and how much they took it for granted before. Fig 11 shows the earth as bound with chains and turned into a plant that does not want to be touched anymore. The years of misuse have made it angry towards humankind, but still there is hope and peace on the left-hand side, while death reigns on the other side. The greyish layer stands for the ozone layer, which is rejuvenating.



These illustrations portray misery, articulating with faith in the return of a free life (without the chains that frequently occur in the drawings). Thus, they depict intermittent active and positive coping techniques in participants’ minds.

The constant fear of acquiring the disease produces an innate need to be relentlessly alert and defensive. This disease is affecting every single person physically, mentally, and emotionally. In Fig 12 , one participant illustrated COVID-19 as death waiting beside him with a stopwatch just waiting for any mistake that might make him a victim and engulf him, while the medical personnel are trying to save lives and bring hope to the world. Another participant ( Fig 13 ) labeled coronavirus as the face of death, which could be anywhere, ready and waiting to take you. According to him, we cannot defeat it, but we need to save ourselves by taking as many precautions as we can.



Fig 14 depicts the emotions of a participant who feels as though he is enclosed in a chamber (quarantined), illustrated in form of a soap dispenser as a symbol of hygiene, one of our only protections. Outside this chamber, coronavirus has wrapped up everything, which has made life inside more depressing. In Fig 15 , the participant shows that clocks are attached to our brains; death is perching on our shoulder all the time. It just seems to be a matter of time before the clock will strike the hour of our demise. Surviving a deadly pandemic reminds us of how brittle life is in this damaged world. Another study participant claims through Fig 16 that it is not the virus itself, but the fear of death that is creating chaos in our subconscious minds. We are not victims of COVID-19; rather, we are victims of the fear that controls all our actions and desires. Therefore, it is time to acknowledge the fear and learn to make our own decisions about survival.




Most of the participants under this theme took a passive coping approach due to the negativity spread through social media. The main cause of depression and poor psychological adjustment was not the pandemic itself, but the fear of death related to COVID-19 that was portrayed on social media.

Fear of an uncertain future was the major concern for most of the students. This pandemic has brought a halt not only to education, but also to practical life. Fig 17 shows a girl enclosed in a bubble of isolation, the only thing that can keep her safe. If she tries to escape to fulfil her dreams, death will be there waiting for her. Her wishes and desires are lost in fear, which puts education, peace, relationships, and career all in jeopardy.


Another illustration ( Fig 18 ) shows that the world is locked down due to this deadly virus. Death is hanging everywhere, not only due to coronavirus but also fear of death itself (thanatophobia) is causing people to die. Not only people, but also their dreams, jobs, careers, and the economy are locked down, and all we can see is darkness everywhere.


In Fig 19 , the participant is trying to show that coronavirus has ruined everyone’s career, education, and future. The person shown in the figure represents a well-educated and career-oriented person whose life has been turned upside down. He is trying to save himself, but soon he will be crushed by the cursed world. Another picture ( Fig 20 ), illustrates students and workers from abroad being forced to leave their institutions and jobs due to this pandemic. They have no idea when they will be able to return to their jobs and institutions, or even if they will ever be able to go back due to the economic pressures that coronavirus has generated. This depicts an uncertain future.



Another participant ( Fig 21 ) stated:

“As this pandemic has kept us away from our goals, my illustration depicts invisible walls between a person and his goals. The more we try to move towards our set goals, the more we are exposed to danger. The red color represents danger, which is getting stronger as we try to break down the physical distance between one another.“


Likewise, Fig 22 shows that the world has thrown away people and their dreams. With each passing minute, people are moving further away from their goals. The background represents the anxiety and depression that human beings are experiencing.


The next participant ( Fig 23 ) tried to portray how humans have been living luxurious lives. We had assumed that nowadays mankind could achieve anything, but COVID-19 has proved us wrong. The blue waves in the illustration show the previous success and peace, which are then disturbed by the black and red lines of death and pandemic. The doodle underneath represents the uncertainty about how life will be after this pandemic, while in the center the eclipse and swing show the ups and downs of mankind, starting from the right-hand one, successful and unbeatable, swinging to the left-hand one, which is a fragile, fearful, and unanticipated future.


Similarly, in the next illustration ( Fig 24 ) the participant portrays a fearful girl thinking about all the worst things that could happen, such as losing her job or her life. Fear of becoming a victim of coronavirus, in terms of health or economics, is ruining her peace of mind. The final illustration ( Fig 25 ) represents the havoc this world is facing. This is not only in terms of excessive deaths, but also compromised education, jobs, business and life goals, and mental and physical health as well as peace. While health-care staff are considered the only frontline warriors, in reality everyone who is suffering from lack of determination, a confusing future, a drowning business or career is fighting this pandemic at the front line.



A majority of participants had concerns regarding their education and future career due to increasing depression, loss of social contacts, and economic crises at home. According to them, these issues were creating a pessimistic approach towards the pandemic and lockdowns.

Outcome space

An outcome space is a graphic representation of the coherent relations among different ideas or notions defined by a study [ 20 ]. The outcome space of this research consists of the creative expressions produced by the participants contained within circles focusing on the linkage and dissociation among different meanings of experience [ 20 , 21 ]. The variation among understandings reveals different ways of thinking and absorbing life experiences among university students. The different themes described portray the unanimity and variances among understandings. They are all experienced at once, instead of in a hierarchical process, which comprises of one classification leading to a new one. The understanding of the world could be defined as existing in an absurdity of “hope or escape to a normal life”, where “forestalling death” or a “compromised future” occur simultaneously. The graph highlights the associations among the classifications/themes, apprehended by the collected data which depicts hope about regaining the pre-pandemic life, fear of becoming a victim of the coronavirus, of losing loved ones, being quarantined away from the people you care about, and being helpless. The arrow is intermixing and moving between the themes as the enormity of life and hope is interlinked with the expectation of death, which is always present and constantly nearby. The fear of death is enormously increased due to the unstable situation, growing depression, enhanced social media discussions, and lack of physical interaction due to the lockdowns. For that reason, the outcome space presented in Fig 26 simultaneously represents active and passive ways of coping with the present situation among university students in Pakistan. It starts by nullifying and escaping from the situation while hoping and praying to get back to normal (pre-pandemic), along with the fear of losing loved ones and future dreams. The first block is the escape from present circumstances, starting by considering the situation to be unreal and shifting towards seeing it as nature’s way of rejuvenating and replenishing itself after the destruction humans have wreaked over the years. A few participants also consider this situation to be the Almighty’s way of showing humankind their reality, because all they want is peace for themselves and their loved ones. The second theme is hope, and this depicts scenes of a victim of the virus or lockdown hoping that things will get better. It creates an optimistic approach by trying to value what we had in the past, which we never really valued at the time. This could be personal freedom, healthy times with family or friends, good health, and a safe environment. This theme gives us time to reconsider our priorities, real happiness, and the meaning of life. The third theme is the most depressive of all, and is about the haunting of mental health. It is about fear which makes individuals more prone to psychological impairments. Fear of losing your loved ones, infecting them, or not being able to help them has increased the adverse effects of the pandemic many times over. Social media interactions during lockdown, media reports, and the increasing death toll have led to fear. The next theme is crucial among all the participants, because it revolves around the future, with or without the pandemic. The educational and economic losses will have long-term effects on participants’ lives. The uncertainty of life has made career opportunities scarce, which has made survival difficult for many individuals. However, hope is omnipresent. If we want to comprehend the study under one theme, then that overall theme would be: “Hope for life while paradoxically living with fear”, which links all the themes described above in a meaningful sense.


COVID-19 is having distinct effects on the lives of students, both physically and psychologically, all over the world. It has not only jeopardized their physical, social, and mental health, but also their education, future plans, and job opportunities. Furthermore, it creates insecurity about the health and lives of their loved ones. Several studies have investigated psychological effects such as anxiety, depression, and stress among university students related to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown [ 23 – 25 ]. But all of these studies were quantitative in nature, thus they could not portray actual insights into the students’ concerns and feelings as this study has done. A study conducted in Spain demonstrated a moderate to severe adverse impact due to this outbreak, psychologically. These effects were particularly strong in students from the fields of arts, humanities, social sciences, and law compared to students from engineering and architecture [ 26 ]. In accordance with this study, the art students in our research, who are strongly affected by the pandemic and lockdown, illustrated their deep-rooted emotional concerns, social seclusion, and remorse over not having cherished their personal freedom, health, and happiness in past.

In the absence of a vaccine, lockdown was necessary in order to control the unknown and extremely infectious COVID-19 pandemic [ 7 ]. This intervention, however, has forced healthy people to suffer the adverse effects of lockdown as well [ 27 ]. Although education and business have continued online to some extent, this is nowhere near the level of actual interactive education or trade. This leads to multiple psychological impacts of lockdown. These adverse effects are more pronounced among students in developing countries [ 28 ] due to scarce socioeconomic resources.

The analysis of the illustrations created for this study revealed four different but interconnected approaches to managing the emotional turmoil of lockdowns related to COVID-19. As in other studies, a few of the participants had hope and faith that was stronger than average, while others were more pessimistic about the ongoing situation. Overall, the findings were psychologically more or less similar. They included fearfulness, isolation, apprehension, insomnia, boredom, resentment, annoyance, ambiguity, and stigmatization. Experiencing the lockdown was not stress-free for these university students. They were combating social distancing as well as the turbulent economic and health circumstances their families were facing. Similar to other studies, quarantined participants had doubts about the actual situation due to the hype created within the media and were hesitant about accepting this lockdown as the most effective technique for combatting the pandemic [ 6 ].

This study has given us an opportunity to understand the requirements, hopes, and thoughts of young people who are facing these drastic infection-control strategies. Several illustrations undoubtedly depict an appreciation of the worth of living a free and peaceful life, which we took for granted before. Furthermore, the unpredictability of COVID-19 and its enduring effects elevate feelings of improbability and uncontrollability in relation to the future. This augments the sense of agony and helplessness which is evident in the illustrations [ 4 ]. COVID-19 has made us realize with trepidation that we could die from a dreadful disease which is indifferent to all of our values, dreams, and pride [ 29 ]. The results of this study could help in gaining insight into the psychological issues that university students are experiencing during lockdown. This could support the devising of effective and comprehensive strategies related to education, emotional counselling, and stress management for improving the mental health of students. Providing adequate information, including the motives for introducing lockdowns and their usefulness for the general public, could reduce the adverse psychological impact of such lockdowns.


Our results need to be interpreted with caution due to some limitations. First of all, the sample limits the diversity of understandings that the human mind could relate to a specific situation. Nevertheless, the sample is quite large for such a qualitative study. There have been no further inclusion or exclusion criteria, despite the fact that they were students of arts and design. There was no need to exclude students who seemed to be depressed, although we did not assess their current state of mental health in a standardized way. Including depressed students may have influenced the results, because persons with depressed mood articulate their emotions and thoughts differently in illustrations. The topic of anxiety and depression was frequently addressed in the illustrations. The interpretation would have been different in a sample of students with depression. The choice of only arts students at one university limits their areas of concern. It needs to be kept in mind that students from other disciplines could have different understandings. The diversity related to age groups and professions could not be delineated.


This study highlights the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students. The qualitative design allows insights into the psychological effects experienced by students during lockdown. The themes, related to fears (such as becoming a victim of COVID-19), concerns (e.g., in terms of education and future career opportunities), as well as the hope for personal freedom and an escape into peace, emphasize the need for supportive programs for relieving stress. Students need to be better prepared to face and overcome the long-lasting gaps this pandemic has created in terms of economic, educational, and career opportunities.

  • View Article
  • Google Scholar
  • PubMed/NCBI
  • 7. World Health Organization. Coronavirus disease 2019 (‎COVID-19)‎: Situation report 88. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020.
  • 29. World Health Organization. Mental health and psychosocial considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak, 18 March 2020. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2020.

Reflections from our Students on “A Day in my Life During Covid-19″

Here are some reflections from our students here at Xavier School in San Juan, Philippines as part of the Global Student Stories Project A Day in my Life: living under the Covid-19 Pandemic . We hope you enjoy reading them. 

A Day in my Life: Zachary 18, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines

The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely shaken our society, especially here in the Philippines. The country and government’s response to the sudden surge of cases in the Philippines was sluggish to say the least. Moreover, the distribution of supplies and food items to both ordinary citizens as well as frontliners continues to be inefficient. News of politicians choosing to label relief goods for their constituents with their names means that time was wasted instead of just handing out the relief goods as soon as possible. More than just being saddened by the cancelation of our graduation I recognize that there are many more concerns in our country that require our attention. The shut down of businesses has truly hit our country hard, as a whole. It especially affects blue collar workers and employees who generally live on a paycheck to paycheck basis. It is immensely frustrating that the government continues to respond late to the needs of the people during this troubling time. In my case I am very grateful that my family is not one that is greatly affected by non-essential businesses being shut down during the quarantine. I cannot begin to feel what the frontliners in our hospitals throughout the country are experiencing right now. I am thankful that I am at home safe and that all I need to do to stay safe is to follow the rules of the community quarantine. However, I have an uncle who is a doctor and is currently serving as a frontliner in PGH. Every day I pray for his well-being that he may be able to stay healthy until this pandemic ends and he is able to come home safely. In light of all the negative effects of this pandemic there have also been little acts of kindness by ordinary people which make their way into the news. People showing that despite what’s going on in the world right now we still need to stick together and lend each other a helping hand throughout this crisis. I see Jesus in the frontliners who sacrifice their health to help people recover from the virus. When thinking and reflecting about the future I am just flooded with emotions, namely relief, anxiety, and hopefulness. I am relieved to hear that the Philippines is starting to eliminate the COVID-19 virus, it’ll be like the light at the end of a dark tunnel. I will be overjoyed when the news comes that we may start to leave our houses again and attempt to live life as we did before the pandemic. However with this sense of relief may also come a sense of anxiety, countries like Singapore have experienced second as well as third waves of the virus and that may very well happen to the Philippines too. Lastly, the future makes me feel hopeful that from this pandemic we learn to be more prepared. Hopefully measures will be put in place to be able to help the less fortunate during the next pandemic. Our society should learn to be able to wrap our arms around one another in a time of crisis like this. Hoarding of supplies such as alcohol and masks should no longer be a practice the next time we encounter a virus similar to this. Instead we must help our neighbor and learn to look out for one another which indirectly helps you protect yourself from the virus as well. God is calling for us to exercise the Filipino quality of “bayanihan” so that we may be able to get through this pandemic together united as a country.

  A Day in my Life: Juancho 17, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines A month into the enhanced community quarantine, everything still feels so surreal. The situation at hand has severely crippled our nation, as there are currently more than 6500 Filipinos who have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, as well as around 500 deaths no thanks to the aforementioned pandemic. However, thanks to the frontline healthcare workers, there have been close to 650 recoveries as of writing.

The repercussions of COVID-19 are endless, with many families struggling financially as multiple companies have laid off several employees as a result of the economic strain which the pandemic has caused. Personally, I feel really lucky and blessed that I still have a roof over my head and get to eat three meals a day during a time when there are countless people who can only wonder where their next meal will come from.

When the lockdown was announced, I felt anger, annoyance, and anxiety. I was angry because my senior year was cut short, but primarily because I didn’t get the chance to march during the Graduation Rites, which was my main driving force for the whole year. I was annoyed because my plans for the long summer before college had suddenly gone down the drain. Finally, I feel anxiety because UP still hasn’t released the list of accepted applicants.

All of these emotions were heightened even further over the course of the past month, albeit for very different reasons. The slow government response to the pandemic is incredibly frustrating. Their failure to immediately address the issue as early as February exacerbated the spread of the virus in our nation, and today, some of our fellow countrymen are paying for this incompetence with their lives. This isn’t to say that all politicians are inept at leading the nation, as some local government officials have truly put the needs of their city above their own, which has truly been a glimmer of hope in this otherwise dark time.

The dark and uncertain times which we now live in has no doubt strained the faith of many people across the world, myself included. After all, why would God allow such suffering and sorrow to propagate amongst his people? It got to the point that I would question why my family prayed the rosary every night, or why we would say the prayers for COVID-19 at multiple times a day. Then at one point I realized, faith is what keeps us going in this time. Faith is directly related to hope, so by praying each night, we keep hoping for the future. God may have his own reasons for allowing this virus to augment and intensify, but it’s faith which keeps us sane as we hope for a future better than the present we are dealing with.

It’s scary to think of the future. Without a doubt, life will not be the same after this pandemic, but that’s okay. Our “normal” wasn’t working. That’s why it truly warms the heart to see several videos on social media which show strangers showing random acts of kindness towards the elderly, frontline workers, and other fellow citizens to ensure that we all get through this trying and turbulent time in the world. Hopefully after this is all over, that becomes the new normal. A world where we finally value what we have and act on a desire to be innately good as opposed to self-centered action.

  A Day in my Life: Drew 16, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines The current situation has affected my daily life to a significant degree. During the summer I would usually be able to visit my relatives and play games with my cousins. My family would usually go to our maternal-side’s house every Friday to be able to catch-up with them. Now we video call through messenger instead. This is so that our grandparents will be safe.

Aside from being stuck at home, I have to give more priority to my health and wellbeing. I’ve begun the habit of washing my hands more often, washing every other hour instead of washing my hands before eating.

Being stuck at home means that we all have a new type of life to live. All structure that we had beforehand are now nonexistent. This has been a blessing to me since now I can focus my time on exercising and other bucket lists that I have kept buried for a long time.

The epidemic has revealed a lot of the weaknesses of our society, as well as its strengths. We realize that our health system was not as effective as it seemed. In my own personal life, I begin to realize that much of my happiness has come from my social interactions with other people. Much of the things that I have looked forward to in the summer, like programmes, camps etc have been cancelled.

On the bright side I have given more priority to my studies and reviewing for the college entrance exams. I am lucky that time was given to me to reflect on my life and where I want to go.

I really hope that everyone else is safe and will find the best way to spend the time that this situation has given us.

A Day in my Life: Marcus 14, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines Ever since the outbreak of COVID-19, me and my family have not been able to freely go outside. One thing that I have changed in my daily lifestyle is that I have to reduce the amount of food I consume. One other change is that we are very focused on keeping our house and ourselves sanitized by regularly washing hands, disinfecting furniture, etc.

I would say that the biggest challenge in living within the outbreak of COVID-19 would be facing the fact that many of our fellow human beings, most especially our frontliners, are suffering amidst the pandemic. One other challenge would be the Enhanced Community Quarantine, where people are not allowed outside of their homes. However, the consolation of the situation is the lessons we would get from it. For example, it teaches us that we should always be prepared for a situation like this in the future. These have made me feel that the world is not perfect, but there are those people who can make it better and this is what society should learn.

My biggest concern regarding the pandemic is the consequences it causes, the death and suffering of many people, the economy, amongst others. My biggest hope is that the pandemic ends as soon as possible.

  A Day in my Life: Mat 16, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines We live in a time of unprecedented fear—merely going out of the house could start a descent into ill health, the social and economic systems we have set up are threatening to collapse, and political systems have shown their full deficiencies. In other words, the idea of community has sacrificed itself in service of individuality.

The full scale of that even rips apart the dynamic of families. Parents have more often than not lost their pay because of the global situation, but worse than this, children have become, in their eyes, even more “useless.” In this extraordinary time, ideas of filial duty and obligation break down and should no longer be fully accepted.

What people need to re-realize is that all our relationships have been built on love, the unconditional love of the most memorable Sacrifice, the perfect love of the Father. However, the love of the Father is meaningless without fear—fear that people will never return to him, fear that fear itself vanishes from us and makes us unafraid for others. Without fearing for the welfare of others, we cannot channel the ultimate Sacrifice on the cross. In this trying time, where communities have torn each other apart, fear for the loss of the communal good has vanished. Love for the fellow human has vanished. Contrary to expectations, the current situation has resulted into the deepest loss of the most fundamental unit of the community. The family has devolved into a sort of hateful contract of apparently one-way obligation. Fear for each other’s holistic welfare has been lost.

Now is the time to change that.

A Day in my Life: Richwynn 16, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines Disrupted routine.  Restrained movement.  Impersonal/Virtual communication.  These summarize my situation following the pandemic declaration and ECQ imposition.  As the world grapples with a powerfully-mutating disease, I have been riding on a roller coaster of emotions and realizations. My moments of desolation sporadically intersperse with a conscious, driven effort to dwell in a state of consolation.  Uncertainties and fear abound as I worry over drastic lifestyle adjustments and the duration of such while grieving over daily news of fallen frontliners and patients who were mostly deprived of their last farewell and/or receiving their last rites.  Meanwhile, this trying time proves human fallibility; and sheds truth that mankind’s scramble for recognition, power, wealth are seemingly worthless when what matters most now is safeguarding God’s gift of life – for self-survival or sharing this through saving others.

In light of Pope Francis’ message for the world to reconnect, I tend to tie this to the themes of Catholic social teachings by showing solidarity from simple acts of acknowledging our frontline warriors to inclusive participation of multi-ethnicities in medical research/clinical trials.  This pandemic effectively breaks man-made barriers stratified through GDP standing, gender, race and social stature; thus highlights that the very essence of human life/dignity is our responsibility to self in relation to our environment (care for God’s creation) and others (care for the needy and the vulnerable).

Login or Join

to create and view comments

student life in quarantine essay

We value your privacy

We use technical, analytical and marketing cookies to help you with things like logging in and picking up your search where you left off.

  • Your Privacy
  • Critical Cookies
  • Performance Cookies
  • Tracking Cookies

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. This information might be about you, your preferences, your device or used to make the site work as you expect it to. The information does not usually identify you directly, but it can give you a more personalized web experience. You can choose not to allow some types of cookies. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings. However, you should know that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on the site and the services we are able to offer.

These cookies are critical for the site to function and cannot be switched off in our systems. These cookies also track anonymous data which is used to help us better understand how our users interact with our site to provide a better user experience.

Content Management System

These are cookies needed by our content management to function correctly.


This cookie holds the site visitor's preferences in regards to which tracking and performance cookies should be enabled during their visit on the site.

Google Tag Manager

Used to distinguish analytics users.

Used to distinguish users. By default, our code tells Analytics to anonymize IP in order for Google to not store information that could be considered to be tracking. Only if tracking cookies are enabled, we will no longer anonymize IP when dealing with Google Analytics.


Cookie that holds the Google Analytics ID, injected via Google Tag Manager.


Our hosting provider monitors the site's health and performance using New Relic. Our site's visitors will see cookies set up by a website called Instructions on how to turn those cookies off can be found here:

These cookies are set through our site by our marketing partners. They allow us to tie your support calls and form responses back to your visit to ensure the website offered you the best possible experience in getting the information you needed.


This cookie is used to detect the first pageview session of a user. This is a True/False flag set by the cookie.


This cookie is set to let Hotjar know whether that visitor is included in the data sampling defined by your site's pageview limit.

Hotjar cookie that is set when the customer first lands on a page with the Hotjar script. It is used to persist the Hotjar User ID, unique to that site on the browser. This ensures that behavior in subsequent visits to the same site will be attributed to the same user ID.

Adobe Analytics

Adobe analytics performance cookie. It does not hold any personal information as it's value is always empty.

Dialogtech cookie to hold the visitor ID. The information is stored anonymously inside Dialogtech's infrastructure.

This cookie is used to display dynamic phone numbers online based on the traffic source of the visitor for analytics.

These cookies are set through our site by our analytic and marketing partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests so we can provide the best possible user experience for you through our website and marketing campaigns. They work by uniquely identifying your browser, operating system, IP and location.

By default, our tag manager code is set up to track page views using the Google's IP Anonymization feature turned on. Also, all the cookies that are set up from Google by default, are set up to expire after the browsing session ends. Turning on this cookie type, will tell Google that the full IP can be used to track your behavior on our website.


If set to 1, will tell google that it can track the full IP and it will set up it's cookies to expire in 365 days, not 0 days as set up by default.

Conversion linker cookie which persists Google Ads information in a first party cookie when the user lands on the site from an ad.

Cookie holds a unique ID for the visitor, that allows third party advertisers to target the visitor with relevant advertisement.

When the Facebook pixel is installed on a website, and the pixel uses first-party cookies, the pixel automatically saves a unique identifier to an _fbp cookie for the website domain if one does not already exist.

When a user clicks on an ad on Facebook, the link sometimes includes a fbclid query parameter. When the user lands on the target website, if the website has a Facebook pixel that uses first-party cookies, the pixel automatically saves the fbclid query parameter to an _fbc cookie for that website domain.

The LinkedIn Insight Tag is a piece of lightweight JavaScript code that you can add to your website to enable in-depth campaign reporting and unlock valuable insights about your website visitors.

Student Health and Wellness Center

  • Health Center Services

My Quarantined Life

  • Your Why Has Weight
  • Social Wellness
  • Steps to Emotional Wellness
  • Wellness Coaching
  • Work in Progress
  • Work in Progress Challenge
  • Alcohol and Other Drugs

Life in isolation and social distancing can be hard. Here are stories from JCU students with their thoughts, feelings, and experiences during this time.

Grief. That’s what this feeling is. 

Grief Cycle

We are grieving the college experience we thought we were in store for. While others may be going through more tangible losses of family members and employment opportunities, our grief is just as valid. No matter how much you have lost in this process, you have still experienced loss. Grief is said to come in six stages: Shock & Denial, Anger, Depression & Detachment, Dialogue & Bargaining, Acceptance, and the Return to a Meaningful Life. Let me take you through my grief process for my last semester of college, and hopefully you can find some familiarities and a sense of hope in your own ability to process this loss. 

Shock & Denial 

The second I heard that in person classes were cancelled until April 13th I immediately packed a bag and left campus. I did not process, I did not say goodbye, I did not think anything through. I just left because I did not know what else to do. How could my senior year just have been minimized by such a margin? How could my formal and Greek Week and my internship all just be obliterated? My dad promised me Chinese food and a warm bed to sleep in at home an hour and a half away, so I just left and tried to clear the confusion from my mind. I told him that there was no way they wouldn't let us come back for the last few weeks. They had to let us finish classes in person, to have finals week, to have our weekend in Put-In-Bay… to have commencement. So, I took baths, enjoyed the free food, reveled in having my own bathroom again, and tried to think of this as a little “vacation” from reality. I was in denial up until the moment we got the email completely cancelling our final semester as college students. 

Throughout the day I would remember the situation and get angry all over again. I would just walk around the house permanently frustrated. If my parents tried to talk about the situation I would be pissed off, if they tried to talk about something else I would be pissed off, and if my dogs barked at the wrong moment in my ever spiraling thought process I would be pissed off. I described it to my mom as “wearing a vest of anger,” I felt it constantly weighing down on my chest, inhibiting everything I wanted to do to cope. I was more aggressive and quick to anger that I had ever felt. I perceived every form of communication as a threat. I assumed that the world intended to just keep hurting me and that no relief would come. This stage ended when I finally sat down with my mom and explained how much pain I was in. 

Depression & Detachment

As someone prone to depressive episodes, this stage almost felt comfortable. I would stay in bed all day and avoid responding to texts. It was a daily struggle to convince myself to shower and do basic self care tasks. I didn’t feel like eating healthy or working out. I wanted to be alone. I was honest with my boyfriend about how low I felt. I wanted to be as far from my old life as possible, in order to ignore the feeling of loss I had. If I didn’t think about my friends and my opportunities, I couldn’t miss them… right? I broke out of this stage when a friend finally got a hold of me, and we had a genuine conversation for the first time in a little while. She reminded me of just how much life I have yet to live. 

Dialogue & Bargaining

I would say that I’m currently in this stage. These stages take time, and no one is expected to be out of them in any “perfect” timeline. I feel more at peace with my new normal, and ready to start adapting to my new life. I am thinking ahead to the fall, and making adapted plans in case this continues. I am keeping my options open, while also trying to keep my future plans intact as much as humanly possible. Part of my dialogue of healing is writing this article and getting my feelings out. I’m trying.

How long will it take to get to this coveted stage? Who’s to say. Could be days, weeks, months… and I’m okay with that. I understand that this situation is still very uncomfortable for me, but I also understand that some day it won’t be. I’m trying to do a better job of being emotionally transparent with those close to me in order to help this process along as smoothly as possible. Open and honest communication is the keystone of healthy grief. Eventually, through the employment of healthy and progressive coping mechanisms, we grieve and we heal. 

Return to a Meaningful Life

Ideally, this will be when the quarantine is over… but we really have no idea when that will be. To take pressure off of myself to heal, I am trying to create a culture of meaningful life in my current situation, so that I do not feel the need to hold myself back until a formal “resolution” is found. Sure, I can hypothesize that a graduation ceremony or return to tactile schooling will fill this need… but I don’t want to set myself up for failure by setting these restrictions on myself. Grieving is a process that must be felt in it’s own time, and one that you must totally give yourself up to. 

A lot of these stages aren’t pretty, and I’m not afraid to admit that. I’m not all too proud of my behavior and how the grieving process has affected me. But - *spoiler alert* - I’m human… and so are you. We all process grief and loss in our own time and in our own methods, with these stages as a potential common theme. It is normal, natural, and VALID for these next few months to be a little tender for us. We lost our last semester. We have every right to feel this grief, and heal from it on our own schedule. 

Sending love to the Class of 2020 and to anyone who has felt a great loss from this horrific situation. Stay healthy and never forget to address your personal wellness as another factor of health. We are all in this together. 

      - Anabelle Nietupski ‘20

JCU  Counseling Center  continues to provide virtual services to support all JCU students.

Other Resources including 24/7 crisis support services, info on how to cope with emotional reactions to everything related to the pandemic all the resulting changes to daily life, and suggestions on how to maintain some routine and normalcy in our lives.

We encourage everyone to connect with each other virtually in general, and even more specifically to connect in order to process these feelings of grief and loss. Students can do that on their own, within their student groups, and soon the Counseling Center will offer the JCU community opportunities to request Zoom presentations or facilitated group discussions on various topics. Topics may include 1) Counseling Center services, 2) coping with anxiety/worry, 3) coping with grief/loss, and 4) coping with day-to-day stressors like increasing productivity and maintaining social connection. Look for more information through Inside JCU and their website.

Esther Mba - Keep the Distance, Flatten the Curve

Esther Mba

I know a lot of people are on edge because of the current COVID-19 crisis going on globally and the alarming rates at which the cases are increasing, but one way that we have been advised to “flatten the curve” is SOCIAL DISTANCING. This is aimed to result in a controlled reduction of the cases by limiting our level of social interaction. However, this has proved to be a challenge, especially for young people who live by the phrases “Live your best life” and “You Only Live Once (YOLO)” who still move about and act oblivious to the warnings of health organizations and the government. But I hope that by the time people are done reading this, we will better understand the need to practice social distancing.

            As young people, the tendency to be rebellious is almost inevitable. Some feel it more than others but it is still a feeling that is very present in us because we want to make the most of our youth, even if it means breaking a few rules to do so. However, when the rules are made to protect us from ourselves, we need to ask ourselves whether the rebellion is worth it. Social distancing is a strongly recommended method of effectively handling COVID-19 by reducing exposure to each other and the environment. This is because the virus is transferred through droplets (sweat, saliva, etc) and can be easily spread by people who cough, sneeze, or by touching a surface that has been contaminated. And since no one really knows where people have been, it is better to be safe than sorry by staying and protecting yourself and the people you care about. But some young people see this as “grown-ups trying to stop them from having fun”.

            There are other methods of avoiding the virus such as, keeping your hands sanitized, washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, coughing into your elbow, not touching your face, etc., but these other methods can only go so far, especially for those who have already been infected. Which is why we need to take those extra measures to ensure that we are not at risk of catching the virus.

            Personally, I have been practicing social distancing as best I can, even though it’s not the most fun thing in the world. But finding ways to make things interesting is usually the fun part. As annoying as it might be sometimes, I know who I am helping by practicing social distancing. I am helping my family, my friends, and the people in the community that I live in, in some way also helping the world by reducing the statistics. At the end of the day, the sooner this goes away, the sooner we can return to our normal lives and appreciate the world a lot more.

Angela Burns

Angela Burns and Her Grandmother

I was devastated when I was told that I would have to pack up all of my things, leave the dorm room that I called “home” and abandon all of my friends for the rest of the school year, I was absolutely devastated. I was scared, and did not want to spend the rest of my school year at home and without my friends. This time is extremely exhausting, demanding, and even inconvenient. This time can be made even more difficult for students who are dealing with mental illness, as well as unfortunate home situations. I personally struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. I can also personally say that being without my friends has been intensely fatiguing, especially since I love being in the physical company of others. I know many other people do as well, but there is so much technology nowadays. Although it cannot in any way replace the experience of being in the physical presence of others, it is still helpful to utilize programs such as Skype, Zoom, a simple phone call, FaceTime, Google Duo, and Netflix Party during this difficult time.

            I know we, as the younger generation, sometimes feel that this time of social distancing is not meant for us. That it is unimportant, that we are stronger than the coronavirus, and some might say that we are “immune.” Although for a majority of the younger population the risk of the coronavirus is not as great as the risk for the elderly population, those that suffer from prior health conditions and those that have a weakened immune system, a prior condition that compromises their immune system, the risk is still prominent. Lately, more and more young people are becoming hospitalized from the Coronavirus, and even ending up with permanent lung damage from it. Also, even if we do not catch the virus ourselves, we are still able to be carriers for the virus and have the possibility of catching either a mild or severe form of the virus. Being a carrier is especially dangerous because that means the person is asymptomatic and does not know that they have the virus. The virus could then unknowingly be passed onto others, and possibly to someone who could experience a very severe case with a less chance of recovery.

            I personally am staying home and practicing social distancing for my grandma. She is in the at-risk category because she is older and has pre-existing health conditions. I’ve always had a very close relationship with her and I love her with all my heart. Since I have been raised by a single-mother, my grandma has helped to raise my brother and I for our entire lives and has continued to do so. She has done so much out of the goodness of her heart to make sure that we would have a good life. This small, tiny, little favor of staying inside my home and practicing social distancing is something that I owe to my grandma. I’m doing this selfless act for her because not only is it a simple and easy task, but it is also something to show her how much I care about her. For all that my grandma has done for me, staying inside and limiting my exposure for her is a small price to pay.

            As college students, I recognize that sometimes we have this concept that the world is revolving around us. We have a full course load and are just trying to live our lives. I, too, am guilty of being selfish. But, I just ask that during this time you attempt to take a step out of the box and practice being selfless in order to protect those around you. I’m sure most of us have someone or multiple people that we love that we do not want infected with this virus. Practicing social distancing and staying at home is the greatest example during this time to show your selflessness while also protecting those you love the most. I understand this is a very heavy topic, but the amount of people that are not remaining in their homes and not practicing social distancing is what is causing the continual increase in cases of the Coronavirus. As I finish writing this, I just ask you to reflect on this: is going out (for any reasons besides for food, medication, or other life-sustaining reasons) really worth the risk of potentially infecting those you care about?

JCU  Counseling Center

Mental Health, Mindfulness and Meditation Apps Breathe Calm Mood Tools Headspace

Ascend at the Aspen Institute

An Unfinished Thought: My Life in Quarantine

  • Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
  • Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)

A partially folded pile of laundry, an essay left undone, kids’ toys everywhere. The coronavirus has turned my life into an unfinished thought – well-intentioned in the beginning but falling flat during execution. Pre-quarantine things were going fairly smooth for my family. We moved to the town where my daughter attends school, which cut my commute down by 30 minutes. My son was finally adjusting to being left at the sitter. My marriage was stabilizing after a rocky winter. I was fully focused and succeeding in school and sharing my perspective as a parent to programs like Ascend and Family Futures Downeast. Then all of that was thrown up in the air. 

When the quarantine started, I was excited. My classes were already online so there was little adjustment to make there. I was happy to get the extra family time. We ordered some groceries, created a schedule, and started some art projects. One of them was a cardboard dome. My husband and I started the dome with vigor. We measured each cardboard component and cut carefully. With music playing in the background and the kids running in and out, quarantine started off really fun. As the day wore on, our dome pieces got more erratic. We stopped checking the directions. I gave my five-year-old a Sharpie and said, “Go for it.” We had reached the chaotic shift. So far, our time in quarantine has mirrored that first weekend – well intentioned, lovingly planned and thought out, and yet still coming apart at the seams. 

I used to get all my schoolwork finished in the middle of the week. I worked part-time at the school library, which allowed me to get the bulk of that done. Now I’m doing all my assignments at the last minute and I’m positive their quality, despite my work ethic, has gone down. 

 I started my daughter on a schedule to keep her routine. She is in Pre-K, so her homeschooling was fairly simple and easy going: number recognition, learning what sounds go with what letters, things like that. We started strong but as the time wore on, the schedule basically became a piece of paper on the wall. She tells me, “Just let me do this MY way” whenever I try to show her anything. I worry she’s lonely for her friends. Pre-K is such an essential place and time for social-emotional development. I know she loved school and that it was really good for her to be around other kids and adults. 

My son, who is now 20 months old, loves being quarantined, but has become so clingy. It’s like peeling a piece of staticky laundry off. He follows me around crying. He has a sensory disorder that we’d gotten under control but has come back with a vengeance. He also developed eczema. I spend a lot of the time of the day wishing my kids were anywhere but near me. Then at night I have nightmares. Someone is trying to take them away from me.  

The only consistency in this weird time has been my husband, who has been like a rock for me. He takes the kids for walks, listens to me rant and rave, and encourages me with school. He even does the dishes – the chore I hate more than any other. I’m not sure where my family would be without his presence and energy.  

I log onto my school’s online curriculum page multiple times a day. I can’t remember what I’ve turned in and what I haven’t. I have no idea what’s due. I don’t even know what week we’re in. I’ve got an intense May term class coming up, then I have two online summer classes. I’ve got my fall classes scheduled. I’m supposed to do an internship but I’m constantly anxious about how all this will work. What’s going to happen next? Will America open up too soon and will more people get sick? I’ve been fortunate that so far no one I am close to has had a known case of the virus, but I’m waiting for that call that my parents or siblings are sick, or my friends (who are like family), or that my immunocompromised baby will get it. I’m worried that I won’t be able to graduate next May like I’m supposed to. I’m also feeling a huge weight of existential dread. 

The laundry isn’t going to get folded, my essay will get haphazardly finished. The toys aren’t getting put up. Social media tells me what I’m experiencing is normal. I’ve got a support system. I’m not alone in this, and yet I still can’t finish anything. I can’t sleep, and I find my ability to care about most things diminishing. Just like this post, everything feels incomplete. Like the cardboard dome we started but didn’t finish. Like my homework, like the laundry, it’s supposed to be normal; but really it isn’t.  

Savannah Steiger is a participant in Family Futures Downeast and the Caring Community Collaborative. She is also an Ascend Parent Advisor supporting the  Aspen Postsecondary Success for Parents Initiative.

Related Posts

Graphic with text that says "Announcing the 2023-24 Parent-Powered Solutions Fund Partners" and features Ascend's 2023 Parent Advisors against a blue backdrop.

  • Community Caring Collaborative

Start typing and press enter to search

George Henson Translates Essay on Quarantine Life

April 3, 2020

George Henson

Middlebury Institute Professor George Henson translated an essay by Bolivian author Edmundo Paz Soldán, entitled “Strange Times,” about life in Covid 19 quarantine, which was just published in World Literature Today .

Edmundo is a critically acclaimed author, who teaches Latin American literature at Cornell. The essay reflects on his own experiences in these strange times and also offers a sobering critique of “American Exceptionalism.” Henson shares that the essay was originally published on March 30 in La Tercera, one of Chile’s most important newspapers. “I was able to turn it around very quickly with his help and the cooperation of World Literature Today.”

Henson teaches Spanish translation at the Institute. His published translations   include Elena Poniatowska’s  The Heart of the Artichoke , Sergio Pitol’s  Trilogy of Memory , and, most recently, Alberto Chimal’s novella  The Most Fragile Objects .

  • Translation and Interpretation

For More Information

Eva Gudbergsdottir [email protected] 831.647.6606

Student Apathy Is a Big Classroom Challenge, Teachers Say. Cellphones Aren’t Helping

student life in quarantine essay

  • Share article

The stakes are high: Students have a lot of academic ground to make up following the pandemic. Yet they’re not fully engaged in the classroom, teachers report in a new national survey .

Nearly half of teachers—and 58 percent of high school teachers—say that their students showing little to no interest in learning is a major problem in their classroom. And 72 percent of high school teachers and a third of middle school teachers say that students being distracted by cellphones is a major problem.

Those results are from a new survey by the Pew Research Center of more than 2,500 public school teachers, which was conducted from Oct. 17 to Nov. 14. (The teachers surveyed are members of the RAND Corp.'s nationally representative American Teacher Panel.) The survey covers a wide breadth of topics, including teachers’ job satisfaction, workload, and challenges in the classroom.

About half of the teachers who responded to the survey gave low marks to both the academic performance and behavior of students at their school. Teachers from high-poverty schools are much more likely to hold these negative views than their peers at low-poverty schools.

When teachers were asked about the problems affecting students at their schools, poverty, chronic absenteeism (generally defined as missing 10 percent or more of school days for any reason), and anxiety and depression topped the list. More than a third of middle school teachers also cited bullying.

And inside the classroom, distractions reign.

Natoria Kennell-Foster, a 7th grade English/language arts teacher in Mississippi, said she’s still seeing the lingering effects of school shutdowns and remote learning in her classroom this year.

Some of her students are “really hungry to learn,” she said. “They want all the things I have to give.”

Others, however, are still not used to the structure of the school day and have been reluctant to engage in class, she said: “Pulling them in can be difficult.”

Kennell-Foster said she’s found some success by pairing her eager students with the disengaged ones. And she’s optimistic that some of these problems will dissipate in the next few years.

“The further we’ve been removed from quarantine, each year has gotten a little closer to being normal,” Kennell-Foster said.

Cellphones are an ‘addiction,’ teachers say

While 71 percent of high school teachers say their school or district has policies regarding students’ use of cellphones in the classroom, 60 percent said those policies were difficult to enforce.

Tamika Kimble, an 8th and 9th grade science teacher at Sylvan Hill Junior High School in Sherwood, Arkansas, has a sign posted in her classroom that cellphones are not allowed. Even so, she frequently has to confiscate phones.

“Sometimes I’ll be teaching, and I notice their heads are down—I know they’re on their phones,” Kimble said. “If I’m paid to teach you to learn something, that’s what I need you to do. I’m not going to allow you to play games on your phone. You are there to learn.”

Yet keeping students engaged in instruction and off their phones is a constant battle for many teachers.

“It’s like an addiction,” said Kelly Chevalier, a science teacher at Crown Point High School in northwest Indiana. “They can’t put them away for any amount of time.”

Her students are constantly messaging their friends, scrolling social media, Googling information, listening to music, watching shows, and playing games on their phones.

And when students were told to turn their phones off and put them away for the duration of a standardized exam, they panicked: “The idea of being without their phone for three hours—it literally causes some of them physiological anxiety,” Chevalier said.

Chevalier said she sees phones akin to cars. Parents would never give their children the car keys and tell them to drive without any preparation, she said. Students need to learn how to use phones—and the unfettered access to a world of both information and mis- and disinformation—responsibly, too.

Close up of elementary or middle school white girl using a mobile phone in the classroom.

Yet parents are not always partners in teachers’ efforts to stem the use of phones in class, teachers say.

Sometimes, Chevalier will tell a student to put away their phone—and they’ll respond that they’re texting their mom, who’s asking them what they want from the store.

Kimble said she’s experienced pushback from parents when she or school leaders have taken students’ phones.

“The parents feel like, ‘This is my phone, I bought it. You have no right to take it,’” Kimble said. “But this is my classroom. I have a right to take it, and I have a right to teach.”

The Pew survey found that 79 percent of teachers say parents do too little when it comes to holding their children accountable if they misbehave in school. Sixty-three percent of all teachers—and three-fourths of high school teachers—say parents do too little to ensure their children’s attendance.

“I think one striking finding [from the survey] is that while teachers navigate through all these challenges, they just don’t feel like they’re getting the support or reinforcement they need from parents,” said Luona Lin, a research associate at Pew Research Center.

Most teachers—65 percent—do say that parents show appreciation for their efforts at least sometimes, with about a quarter saying it happens frequently.

Even so, 40 percent of teachers say that parents at least sometimes communicate with them in a disrespectful way.

Teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than other workers

Only a third of teachers say they’re “extremely” or “very” satisfied with their job overall, compared to about half of all U.S. workers. EdWeek’s The State of Teaching survey , released last month, found similar themes of low morale, an ambivalence toward recommending their profession to loved ones, and a heavy workload.

Calendar posted on a bulletin board with sticky notes displaying emojis which become increasingly despondent as the month progresses

Indeed, the Pew survey found that more than 8 in 10 teachers said there’s not enough time in the day to get all their work done—mostly because they simply have too much work to do, respondents said, but also because they have other responsibilities, like hallway or lunch duty, that cut into their core work .

A strong majority of teachers said their job is often stressful (77 percent) or overwhelming (68 percent). Smaller majorities said their job is often fulfilling (56 percent) or enjoyable (53 percent).

Female teachers are more likely than male teachers to say their job is frequently stressful or overwhelming. Similarly, female teachers are more likely to say that work-life balance is difficult for them to achieve.

Lin pointed to prior Pew research that shows that female workers overall are more likely than male workers to say their job is stressful and overwhelming all or most of the time. That’s perhaps in part because research shows women in opposite-sex marriages typically take on a heavier load at home with household chores and caregiving responsibilities.

The Pew survey also found that 82 percent of teachers say that the overall state of public K-12 education has gotten worse in the last five years, with large shares pointing to the current political climate, the lasting effects of the pandemic, and changes in the availability of funding and resources.

About half of teachers expect the state of education to be worse five years from now.

Meanwhile, Pew separately surveyed about 5,000 U.S. adults in November and found that about half say the public K-12 education system is going in the wrong direction . Just 16 percent say it’s going in the right direction; the rest aren’t sure.

Large shares of people who held a negative view of the education system pointed to the following reasons: schools are not spending enough time on core academic subjects; teachers are bringing their personal political and social views into the classroom; and schools don’t have the funding and resources they need.

Lin highlighted the fact that while both teachers and the general public hold a largely negative view of education, their reasons for doing so are mostly different.

“All these issues that teachers are facing in the classroom ... they’re not known to the general public,” she said. “We definitely hope that our report sparks some discussion.”

Sign Up for EdWeek Update

Edweek top school jobs.

Images shows a stylized artistic landscape with soothing colors.

Sign Up & Sign In

module image 9


  1. Covid 19 How to Write an Essay During the Quarantine

    student life in quarantine essay

  2. A Day in the Life of a Quarantined Student

    student life in quarantine essay

  3. Quarantine at Home Free Essay Example

    student life in quarantine essay

  4. quarantine essay with refs

    student life in quarantine essay

  5. These Are the Most Important (Positive) Life Lessons I've Learned in

    student life in quarantine essay

  6. Essay on How to Spent my quarantine days |Quarantine Life

    student life in quarantine essay


  1. Essay hack that EVERY STUDENT NEEDS to know about pt.5🤯 #student #school #studyhacks

  2. Essay on Students Life in Hindi

  3. The HARDEST Exam in the World

  4. essay on student life 21/3/2024

  5. essay on student life| student life essay in english| student life essay


  1. One Student's Perspective on Life During a Pandemic

    Tiana Nguyen '21 is a Hackworth Fellow at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. She is majoring in Computer Science, and is the vice president of Santa Clara University's Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) chapter. The world has slowed down, but stress has begun to ramp up. In the beginning of quarantine, as the world slowed down ...

  2. My Quarantine Experience Essay & Paragraphs For Students

    Essay On My Quarantine Experience. To comprehend my quarantine experience fully, it is important to understand what quarantine entails. It is a preventive measure aimed at curbing the spread of infectious diseases by isolating individuals who have been exposed to the infection. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, quarantine involved ...

  3. What Life Was Like for Students in the Pandemic Year

    She was all I had. I was forced to turn my camera on and float in the fake reality of being fine although I wasn't. The teachers tried to keep the class engaged by obligating the students to ...

  4. What Students Are Saying About Living Through a Pandemic

    March 26, 2020. The rapidly-developing coronavirus crisis is dominating global headlines and altering life as we know it. Many schools worldwide have closed. In the United States alone, 55 million ...

  5. Student life in quarantine

    The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of everyone's lifestyle and not many realize how much this has impacted students. From group work and interacting with other students in the library to studying independently in their homes, students are losing their connection to the real world. "Have group calls, arrange online quizzes on ...

  6. Coronavirus: My Experience During the Pandemic

    The coronavirus is a virus that originated in China, reached the U.S. and eventually spread all over the world by January of 2020. The common symptoms of the virus include shortness of breath, chills, sore throat, headache, loss of taste and smell, runny nose, vomiting and nausea. As it has been established, it might take up to 14 days for the ...

  7. My Quarantine Fatigue: Life as a Teenager During COVID-19

    My Quarantine Fatigue: Life as a Teenager During COVID-19. By Katie Karlson. The hours stretched into days as I lazed around the empty house. Sleeping in, home alone, and no one to tell me to turn down the TV. I thought to myself, "I could get used to this." But the two-week break came and went, classes moved online, my parents started working ...

  8. Teenagers are struggling in quarantine. This student is giving them an

    The content consists of essays submitted by students, from middle school to college, that are authentic reactions and perspectives about COVID-19 and quarantine in the students' own words. Common themes in the collection include navigating the switch to virtual learning, challenges with home life and the strain on teenagers' friendships and ...

  9. PDF The Impact of Covid-19 on Student Experiences and Expectations

    honors students, suggesting that, a priori, most engaged students strongly prefer in-person classes. As expected, the COVID-19 outbreak also had large negative e ects on students' current labor market participation and expectations about post-college labor outcomes. Working students su ered a 31% decrease

  10. Coronavirus: What students have learned living in pandemic

    The most important lesson I have learned from having to live through the coronavirus pandemic is that not everything goes your way. But no matter what's happening, you must take control of the ...

  11. How do teenagers live in lockdown?

    Chiara B attends the second year at the Italian school in Madrid, where she lives with her family. She's a Hollywood film fan and she wants to become a director of photography. Spain is among ...

  12. Essays reveal experiences during pandemic, unrest

    The COVID-19 outbreak has had a huge impact on both physical and social well-being of a lot of Americans, including me. Stress has been governing the lives of so many civilians, in particular students and workers. In addition to causing a lack of motivation in my life, quarantine has also brought a wave of anxiety.

  13. 12 moving essays about life during coronavirus

    The days dragged on in my apartment, in black and white, like my photos. Sometimes we tried to smile, imagining that I was asymptomatic, because I was the virus. Our smiles seemed to bring good ...

  14. My Life During Quarantine in a Pandemic

    'Another thing about being in quarantine, it gets you thinking about, well, everything.' Editor's note: This is the sixth reflective essay in a series on the pandemic and quarantine by Desert Sands Unified School District senior representatives to the Board of Education. Each student is a contributing member of the school board and participates in an advisory council to the superintendent.

  15. A day in quarantine: A high school student shares her story

    I chose the title "A Day in Quarantine" for this essay, because every day is the same. I only need to explain one day and then multiply that by the number of days I've been in quarantine. I feel like my life is on replay; like I am being forced to relive the same day every day.

  16. My Life Experience During the Covid-19 Pandemic

    My content explains what my life was like during the last seven months of the Covid-19 pandemic and how it affected my life both positively and negatively. It also explains what it was like when I graduated from High School and how I want the future generations to remember the Class of 2020. Class assignment, Western Civilization (Dr. Marino).

  17. The pandemic has had devastating impacts on learning. What ...

    Even more concerning, test-score gaps between students in low-poverty and high-poverty elementary schools grew by approximately 20% in math (corresponding to 0.20 SDs) and 15% in reading (0.13 SDs ...

  18. Part 1: Maximizing In-Person Learning for All Students

    It is important that students who are temporarily not attending school in-person due to isolation or quarantine (as well as students with other current health needs such as immunocompromised students and families) remain engaged and connected to learning with their peers and teachers in learning from home. ... and improve life outcomes. They ...

  19. Psychosocial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown on ...

    Limited evidence exists to help understand the experiences of university students in relation to the long-term lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For that reason, we conducted a study using a phenomenographic approach in order to understand how university students perceive COVID-19 and the associated lockdown. Data were collected from 25 students in Pakistan. They were asked to demonstrate ...

  20. Reflections from our Students on "A Day in my Life During Covid-19″

    A Day in my Life: Zachary 18, Xavier College San Juan, Philippines. The COVID-19 pandemic has definitely shaken our society, especially here in the Philippines. The country and government's response to the sudden surge of cases in the Philippines was sluggish to say the least. Moreover, the distribution of supplies and food items to both ...

  21. My Quarantined Life

    My Quarantined Life. Life in isolation and social distancing can be hard. Here are stories from JCU students with their thoughts, feelings, and experiences during this time. Grief. That's what this feeling is. We are grieving the college experience we thought we were in store for. While others may be going through more tangible losses of ...

  22. An Unfinished Thought: My Life in Quarantine

    A partially folded pile of laundry, an essay left undone, kids' toys everywhere. The coronavirus has turned my life into an unfinished thought - well-intentioned in the beginning but falling flat during execution. Pre-quarantine things were going fairly smooth for my family. We moved to the town where my daughter attends school, which cut my commute down by 30 minutes. My son was finally ...

  23. George Henson Translates Essay on Quarantine Life

    Middlebury Institute Professor George Henson translated an essay by Bolivian author Edmundo Paz Soldán, entitled "Strange Times," about life in Covid 19 quarantine, which was just published in World Literature Today.

  24. Student Apathy Is a Big Classroom Challenge, Teachers Say. Cellphones

    Some of her students are "really hungry to learn," she said. "They want all the things I have to give." Others, however, are still not used to the structure of the school day and have been ...