Kids across Washington have been thrown into an unprecedented situation since schools closed more than six weeks ago. Now, sheltered in place and missing their friends, some are feeling bored, maybe scared and irritated at siblings. But some have also been having fun, starting a class newspaper or playing more. And the coronavirus pandemic has also sparked a desire to see change. Here, eight young people, ages 10 to 15, share how they’re coping, in their own words.
Lily Cohn, 11, fifth grader at Griffin School in Olympia
So far, staying at home has not been too bad. I just miss my friends — they are really nervous. I am kind of nervous with my grandparents and all, but they are super healthy. The only thing that really scares me is that next time I go to school, I might be a 6th grader!
It is scary, but my family is taking lots of precautions to keep us healthy. I kind of miss all my activities: I was going to join a choir with my friends — but that got canceled. There is one friend that I miss most of all: my cousin Rachel. She lives in California, and she visits every spring break, but this year she can’t because of COVID-19.
I am also scared for my other cousin. She has diabetes, which scares me, because she could get really sick. The last time I saw her was at my birthday party. It’s sad that she lives nearby and I can’t see her at this time.
I have a lot of fun things to share about being home: I had an international dance party with an online DJ that was fun. Legos have really helped me — I am making a mansion, I built a Lego family and Lego friends. I finally got to play with my scooter, and I am going to get music on my iPod Touch — can’t wait for that. Well, that has been my break so far. I hope everybody stays healthy and we can all return to our activities soon!
Mehr Grewal, 13, seventh grader at Odle Middle School in Bellevue
I just turned 13 last month. My milestone birthday came during the pandemic shutdown. Life has changed not just for me, but the entire planet! An invisible enemy has invaded my city. A vibrant community quivered under a storm as first responders (like my mother, a doctor) grappled to save lives.
Now, as my mother leaves for work every day, I say a silent prayer. Being on the front lines, she is in the eye of the storm. I say goodbye in trepidation, worried about her health. But as she dons her scrubs, I see a soldier, gallantly going to war. Returning late at night, she carefully sanitizes herself before she can be “mom” again. She cares deeply about her patients, but also wants to protect us. For my family, this battle is personal.
My perspective is of a teenager, interrupted. My life, which was a whirlwind of school, friends, classes and a focus on myself, has been coerced into a lull, opening my eyes to things I never observed before. I see the amazing adults around me — doctors, nurses, pharmacists, journalists, grocery store workers and policemen. I value their courage and dedication.
My generation, which will be the “quarantine generation,” will be looked upon to rise to new challenges. Historically, stressful times generated revolutionary ideas, prompted innovations and triggered new discoveries. I envision us, the youth, as changemakers who will create lifesaving cures, push toward environmental sustainability, find a way to provide universal health care.
As the world reboots, I will be ready with a new resolve to spearhead as part of the quarantine generation.
Nolan Hubel, 12, sixth grader at Timbercrest Middle School in Woodinville
My experience since the closing of school has been stressful. Although I am working very well and getting all my assignments done the day they are given, I am going crazy.
The one thing I will never get during this time: space. Since our house is in renovation, we are all living in our RV. Also, since I have misophonia, which is getting angry when hearing certain noises, I am irritated often because we are all so close that I can hear my family eating, typing and crinkling bags, which are the worst days of my life.
I also miss having a schedule, because having a routine makes my day more simple and laid-back. I always knew what to expect at school and studying from home is less predictable.
Pushkal Kumar, 10, fifth grader at Lockwood Elementary School in Bothell
I am (surprisingly) enjoying quarantine. I mean we get to sleep in, and we do way less work than we usually do at school. Although there are quite a few things that I am missing about a regular life such as being able to go to the movies and not always having to worry about washing my hands. Can I sue the coronavirus because it might have caused me to have permanent skin problems from washing my hands so often?
All this free time during quarantine has also caused a problem — me getting bored. Turns out, it was not only I who was getting bored during quarantine, my whole class was. So, we thought about making a newspaper. And sure enough, we made it happen, 100% online. We gathered a team of classmates who became journalists and editors, and gave them deadlines to give us the articles by. We had a rough start but we pulled it together. So far, we have published two editions and are working on the third.
I also think that I have been having more fun than I usually do, because now my mom lets me stay in my playroom for long hours, which she usually would not let me do. Even though it is not impacting me that much, I still hope that we will get out of quarantine soon!
Aranya Moses, 11, fifth grader at B.F. Day Elementary School in Seattle
Being with my extroverted big sister 24/7 is difficult. I love her but we are pretty much polar opposites and, sadly, opposites don’t actually attract. We are often arguing and bickering. We have had some fun being home together, but it doesn’t even out, compared to the bickering. I do admit that my cheery sister has been rubbing off on me. I VOLUNTARILY watched “My Little Pony.” What has the world come to?
I have been able to contact most of my friends; I can call some of my friends and I have had Zoom hangouts and “6-foot playdates” (where I went to friends’ houses and they played on the house steps while I stayed more than 6 feet away on the sidewalk. We talked and made up skits). I wish I could actually see these people more, but I’ve been fine as-is.
Surprisingly, I like home-school a lot. It’s really fun. My mom has been doing a great job making units for us. I have a really interesting art unit and my teachers have started making short YouTube videos for classes. I definitely miss school and am sad that I’m never going back as a student to B.F. Day. I’m missing out on the annual 5th grade IslandWood trip, which sucks. But family bonding stuff like throwing a Frisbee around and game nights almost make up for it. Well, halfway makes up for it.
Xuan Moses, 15, 10th grader at Lincoln High School in Seattle
Overall, my experience of sheltering at home is a pretty negative one. I am an extrovert, so being away from my friends is super hard. I’m always remembering when we could see each other in person, which makes me feel sad and lonely. Having a little sister at home makes social distancing a bit easier because I have someone to interact with. But constantly being around each other can be very difficult and we often bicker over trivial things.
I am a competitive figure skater and not being able to skate is even harder than not being able to see my friends. If I could skate then I wouldn’t stress over losing skills and I would be able to fill more hours of the day with activity.
Online school is challenging, too. The teachers can’t provide the same amount of support as usual. Turning things in is much more difficult because teachers are using different online systems. I am worried about my future and how my application to college will be affected by the pandemic.
Now I will always remember my sophomore year as the corona year. It is super hard to stay upbeat and positive during this strange time but I am just trying to stay hopeful for when this will all be over and we can return to normalcy.
Christopher Nora Jr., 13, seventh grader at Meadowdale Middle School in Lynnwood
It has been hard being home all of the time. Sometimes it gets annoying being with the same people. I’m often bored because I cannot see any of my friends.
Every day on weekdays my family gets up at 8 a.m. to start the day. First we eat and then get to school work and chores. We usually do school work till 3 p.m., then we go outside. When we’re outside, all we can really do is go for a neighborhood walk or play basketball on the court if it’s empty and safe. For fun as a family, we sometimes go on a drive (but we have to stay in the car), have board game nights, watch TV together or play music together. Music has helped me avoid boredom a lot. Sometimes I’ll get out my trumpet or just sit at the keyboard and play.
When this is all over, I hope people are way more careful and are sure they are not sick before they socialize. I also hope we can go back to school in September. A lot of my friends are in the next grade and are going to a new school next year and I won’t see them and that’s going to be hard, but I will have to deal with it.
After this, the world should think in a new way. It seems like all of this staying at home has helped the environment recover since people aren’t driving very much or buying as many goods and services. Continuing to consume less might be a new way of helping the environment to recover past this pandemic.
Ellie Scarseth, 11, fifth grader at Beverly Elementary School in Lynnwood
I have never experienced something like this pandemic. When people first started talking about the coronavirus I didn’t know much about it and I thought it was no big deal. Later when schools started closing, I got worried that my school was going to close, too. Shortly after that, my school did close.
Life has changed so much. We are with each other all day long and sometimes it gets annoying. Sometimes it even feels like the same day is repeating over and over again. It’s crazy when I go to the store and on the road there is no one else. It blows my mind that some of my family members can get to work in like 15 minutes when it normally takes somewhere between 40 to 90 minutes.
Online school can be a hassle. Looking at a screen all day can give me a headache and makes me tired. It can be hard to learn and to understand things when we are learning over video chat or just a video that our teacher sends us. I don’t like not being able to see friends. Now I get easily distracted at things in my house because I feel like I can play with whatever I want. It is nice to be able to sleep in a little and start school calmly though.
Once the world is back to normal, I think we should be outside more, use cars less and be more careful about not spreading germs.