(Context for anyone reading this: this was originally created as an end-of-year project for Ms. Yee’s AP US History class at Homestead High School (located in Cupertino, California). As I am writing this it is August 1, 2020, and apparently my library is encouraging people to submit personal stories about COVID-19 to some statewide archiving project, so I decided to submit this because I have already created it.)
Anyway, if you are still reading this, unknown person, I hope you are having a good day! Hopefully by this time next year things will be back to normal!
A picture of a crossed-out advertisement for Junior Prom, written on the whiteboard in the I-Hub, a building at Homestead High School, taken March 13.
I took this picture on March 13, which was the day that it was announced that school would close for at least three weeks because of the coronavirus. Junior prom had actually been cancelled a week before, on March 6. As far as I can tell, this was because the Santa Clara County Public Health Department had started to recommend cancelling large gatherings and unnecessary travel. So, the district decided to cancel all large events and field trips until April 3. I’m not entirely sure why they chose April 3, but it also happened to be the planned date of junior prom, so I think they might have been hoping that they would still be able to have it by not cancelling all large events for the rest of the year. In the end, though, junior prom did not end up happening because school ended up being cancelled for the rest of the year.
I think that before March 6, I didn’t really think that coronavirus was going to be that big of a deal. I definitely knew that it existed, and knew that it had killed a lot of people, but I figured that it was only going to be a problem in Asia and Europe. I thought that it would be like the other diseases that I had heard about on the news like Ebola, and that it wouldn’t affect my life at all. Even after junior prom was cancelled, for a little bit I still thought it was being over exaggerated. On March 6, I sent this message to a friend:
“they’re cancelling a bunch of school events and i’m a bit annoyed bc like i think my chance of getting coronavirus at some school event is not much different from if i’m just at school y’know?”
Looking back, this seems pretty naive considering how big of a crisis coronavirus would turn out to be, but I guess I couldn’t have known that at the time.
I still didn’t expect school to be cancelled. On March 12, the day before the school closure announcement, I sent this message to a friend:
“my school is making everyone answer a survey about whether they have a computer and internet access at home…hopefully they are only preparing for the worst-case scenario and they will not actually cancel school next week? I think they will probably only cancel school if it gets really bad though”
The survey had been given to everyone in my English class and asked whether we had a computer and internet access at home. This seemed kind of concerning to me, but I figured that they would only close the school if one of the students or staff was confirmed to have coronavirus. I had also heard in the news that the disease had a two-week incubation period, so people could have the disease for two weeks and not show any symptoms. This was also pretty concerning to me. I didn’t want to get the virus and then not know for two weeks while I spread it to other people.
On March 13, finding out about the school closure was a pretty big surprise to me. I remember that I had Chemistry class in the morning on that day, and during the morning announcements the principal made an announcement over the loudspeaker assuring us that they would only cancel school if it was really necessary. (I don’t remember the exact wording, but it was something close to that.) My next class was Spanish. At some point, one of the kids sitting next to me started telling people that the district was going to announce something about school closure at noon. (I think either his parent(s) worked for the district or he had a friend whose parent(s) worked for the district.) Sure enough, just before noon, everyone in the class got an email announcing a three-week school closure. After we got the email, it was all I could think about for the rest of the class period. At the time I thought that the school closure would only last for three weeks, and we would be back to normal school in a month or so. I definitely was not expecting school to be cancelled for the rest of the year.
One problem that came up related to the school closure was the yearbook, which was my last class for the day. The deadline to submit all the pages was on April 1, and the school closure (at the time) was supposed to go until April 3, so we wouldn’t have access to school computers before the deadline. I remember a pretty hectic class period where everyone rushed to get in as many interviews as possible. I was actually pretty impressed at the quick solution that the school and adviser came up with for how to work on the yearbook at home. Everyone downloaded Adobe Creative Cloud onto their personal computers and shared all the InDesign files on Google Drive. In the end the yearbook ended up being finished and printed perfectly fine (the printing company was in Canada and not as affected by the pandemic), which I thought was pretty cool.
Overall, the whole thing was a very weird experience. On March 12, I sent this message to a friend:
“of all the things that could have happened this year, I definitely didn’t anticipate this one”
It felt very strange to be living through something so unprecedented. I’d never experienced anything like it before.
Submitted by Emmy Gallagher, Santa Clara County – Palo Alto.