A.M., 46, a School Secretary in Murrieta, CA

We have been in lockdown since March. The biggest way in which my community has been impacted is that children and high schoolers can not go to school. I think it is damaging their education and harming our students mentally and socially around the country. Kids need to go to school and learn in person because online schooling is having very negative effects. I think COVID-19 has also been very divisive for communities. I have seen it in people’s attitudes, politics, and the controversial topic of masks. Whenever I go to the grocery store, I see many people not wearing masks or wearing them improperly. I have not seen my community being brought together.

All three workers in my family are essential workers. Financially, my future plans have not been affected.  My daughter’s senior year has been cancelled and it seems very unlikely that all of those major events and activities will not be taking place this year which has been extremely disappointing and heartbreaking. Our future trip has also been cancelled. For the past three years, we have been planning on going to Europe (London and Paris) for my daughter’s graduation. It is very upsetting and unfair how she does not get to experience all these things she had been promised after twelve years of hard work in school.

My biggest priority is the safety and health of myself and my family. I am not going to high-risk places and am being super careful whenever I do go somewhere. I have not been taking risks and have not gone to many places because of my health and the health of the people around me.

The biggest challenge that I am now facing is the toil of children around the country not going to school. I believe that kids need to be going to school. The situation has been messing with my thoughts. I have heard terrible stories about the impact of a virtual school on students and their mental health. At the beginning of quarantine in March and April, the fear of the unknown was another hardship. The fear was paralyzing and I found myself crying a lot.

In the beginning, I was very depressed and crying a lot of the time. I was also fearful of the unknown and how long the pandemic will last. Now, I am extremely bored and wish that I could go travel or at least leave my house. I can easily get depressed especially when thinking about our students and schooling. I also experience anxiety including worries about our country’s political atmosphere and the longevity of the quarantine and lockdowns.

There have not been any real opportunities. I think the only things that I have gained from COVID-19 is more time with my family and learning new technical skills with computers and virtual meetings on zoom.

We are all essential works, so we all still have a schedule and need to go to work every day. During the start of quarantine, we spent lots of time doing puzzles, reading, and binge-watching television shows. Besides that, it has been very boring as there is nowhere to go.

My experience has transformed my perception of community as I have been surprised at people’s lack of respect for others. I have also seen people become progressively rude and selfish. In terms of government, the government has become even more divided with very different views on how our society should look and be run. It has caused a lot of tension, civil unrest, and unpredictability.

[submitted on 11/7/2020]

Life in Quarantine: Witnessing Global Pandemic is an initiative sponsored by the Poetic Media Lab and the Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis at Stanford University.

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