High School Seniors in the Time of Coronavirus

In an effort to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, schools across the nation have closed all in-person classes. San Luis Coastal Unified School District shut down in mid March with an ending date uncertain. In what seemed like an instant, milestones like prom, graduation ceremonies, and big family parties, which generations of students have taken for granted, are on shaky ground.

Along with that, students could miss out on teary, face-to-face goodbyes with longtime friends, yearbooks filled with signatures and musings about the past, and engaging for a few final moments with teachers — a customary part of the last days of senior year.

The graduating class of 2020 has been handed a wait-and-see immediate future, leaving some seniors feeling anxious, contemplative and disappointed.

Via email, Estero Bay News did a Q&A with a few Morro Bay High School seniors for a glimpse at what they are missing, what they look forward to and what they have learned in the time of the coronavirus.

Morro Bay High School Student Body
President Riley McConnell,18, at Disneyland for her birthday.

What is the biggest impact the
coronavirus pandemic has had on you?

The threat of cancellation of my senior prom, my graduation ceremony, my college orientation, and so much more has really taken a toll on me. And not being able to see the people I love every day is painful, too.

Have you created any fun ways to stay in touch with your friends while following social distancing practices and/or stay at home practices?

We use video calls mostly, texting, and online games too. I’ve also gone on a few hikes with friends that live close to me, walking quite far apart but still together nonetheless.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

I’ve been doing my homework mostly. It’s rather time consuming now that it’s all online. Other than that I’ve been painting and working on other projects I had been putting off for a long time.

What have you learned about the world, your community, your friends or your parents from this experience?

Our way of life is incredibly fragile; society is like a house of cards. Everything that made me feel like life was structured has crumbled in the matter of a few weeks. As for my friends, I’ve learned they are the most important force of good in my life. After this I’ll never take the time I get to spend with them for granted. 

Young people are facing a lot of backlash about not following social distancing protocol, what made you realize the importance of it?

I just don’t want anything bad to happen to my grandma. She can’t get it. 

What is the first thing you will do after the stay at home order is no longer in place?

I’m going to go to a restaurant with all my friends, order food, and then sit there and eat it. Together. Or maybe I’ll get a haircut.

At this point, school will have been converted to online learning for about six weeks before you might go back to campus, what do you miss the most

I miss my teachers, genuinely. No direct contact with them has made learning extremely difficult, and I’ll be grateful when I can finally talk face-to-face with them again.

What don’t you miss?

I don’t miss a lot of the people, if I’m being honest. Teenagers have always been germy, corona or not.

What worries you about this whole situation?

I’m worried we will never be able to fully recover from this as a society. What I want more than anything is just to go back to normal. 

Joey Ruddell, 18, at Carpinteria High School in February after a new personal record for high jump.

What is the biggest impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on you?

I would say the biggest impact the coronavirus has had on me is taking away the best part of my senior year. I play track and field and that has been taken along with prom and potentially walking [in graduation ceremonies].

Have you created any fun ways to stay in touch with your friends while following social distancing practices and/or stay at home practices?

I’ve used Snapchat and FaceTime to stay in touch with my friends.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

I have been listening to a lot of podcasts and having set workouts.

What have you learned about the world, your community, your friends, or your parents from this experience?

I have learned that panic can be created very easily, and that people are very bought into the media.

Young people are facing a lot of backlash about not following social distancing protocol, what made you realize the importance of it?

For me it’s just a matter of respect. The entire world right now feels very strongly about social distancing, so I think it’s respectful to do it and disrespectful not to do it. I also understand that this virus is very easily transmittable and don’t want to spread it or bring it back to my family.

What is the first thing you will do after the stay at home order is no longer in place?

Go and do something with my friends if gatherings are allowed.

At this point, school will have been converted to online learning for about six weeks before you might go back to campus, what do you miss the most?

I miss seeing my friends every day along with my teachers.

What don’t you miss?

Morro Bay has a frustrating parking situation but besides that I miss it all.

What worries you about this whole situation?

I worry that the class of 2020 will n,ot get to have a graduation ceremony. In the big picture I worry what this will do to the economy, future jobs, and our local businesses.

Fiona Schier, 17, a foreign exchange student from Germany during a trip a recent to Santa Barbara with friends.

What is the biggest impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on you?

The biggest impact that corona has had on me is probably that I’m not really able to do stuff with my friends anymore. We can’t go to places, schools are closed, and restaurants, shops and even some beaches are closed, which is literally insane.

Have you created any fun ways to stay in touch with your friends while following social distancing practices and/or stay at home practices?

Yeah, we definitely found some ways to communicate. Especially in the world of social media it’s really easy to communicate with each other. So I’m FaceTimeing my friends a lot and we are also going outside in the nature more often.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

I try to go to the beach more often because that’s one of the only things I’m still allowed to do. I also watch a lot of documentaries about different kind of things lately.

What have you learned about the world, your community, your friends, or your parents from this experience?

I learned that some of my friends are more sensitive then others and that they are really stressed out about the whole situation, and they’re also afraid of what’s going on right now. Even if they try to be calm, I can see that they are afraid about the virus and how it affects them.

One thing I also learned is that people are selfish, and a lot of people are panicking; they are buying way too much stuff because they’re scared that there is no food left. I think it’s crazy how empty all the grocery stores are, and it honestly kind of scares me, not the virus itself but how people are acting.

Young people are facing a lot of backlash about not following social distancing protocol, what made you realize the importance of it?

I think I realize the impact since a lot of people started dying from it, and since the coronavirus was all over the news and social media. One thing I also noticed is that people took it more serious after a while once they realized how dangerous it actually is and how much impact it has on all of us. I mean almost every store is closed, restaurants, public places, just everything.

What is the first thing you will do after the stay at home order is no longer in place?

I will probably go on a trip and do all the things I was missing the past month. And I will of course do a lot of stuff with my friends!

At this point, school will have been converted to online learning for about six weeks before you might go back to campus, what do you miss the most?

I probably miss the social contact with other people the most! I am not a fan of online school it’s personally really hard for me, and I don’t have fun learning anymore. I also miss lunch breaks and just the people around me.

What don’t you miss?

I don’t miss waking up at 6 a.m. every single morning lol. But that is the only thing.

What worries you about this whole situation

I’m worried about people in general. Not only that people die from it, but I’m worried about people who are panicking and people who are actually really afraid about COVID19. I’m also worried about my family and especially about my grandparents. It’s a situation that never happened before and no one can tell me what is going to happen it the future and that kind of worries me too.

Aly Sullivan, 17, on a recent trip to Santa Barbara with friends.

What is the biggest impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on you?

So far the coronavirus has taken the last few months of my senior year away, which includes big events like prom.

Have you created any fun ways to stay in touch with your friends while following social distancing practices and/or stay at home practices

I have started FaceTiming my friends and playing multiplayer games with them online.

What are you doing to keep yourself occupied?

Since I’ve been home I’ve painted my room, gone on tons of walks and hikes, and started multiple art projects.

What have you learned about the world, your community, your friends, or your parents from this experience?

This situation has shown me different sides to people I know, some people are unnecessarily scared and some are unbothered to the point where it’s concerning. It really shows that no one knows how to properly handle it.

Young people are facing a lot of backlash about not following social distancing protocol, what made you realize the importance of it?

The quick spread of the virus made me realize the importance of keeping a safe distance, seeing the charts including the curve helped me understand the severity of the issue of slowing down the spread to not overwhelm hospitals.

What is the first thing you will do after the stay at home order is no longer in place?

The shelter in home was extended 8 days after my 18th birthday, so I want to get together with my friends and celebrate!

At this point, school will have been converted to online learning for about six weeks before you might go back to campus, what do you miss the most?

I miss seeing my friends and classmates everyday, I never realized how important they were to me until it was a possibility that I’d never see some of them again. I also miss my teachers and having a proper class. Since we weren’t prepared for online school, I’m not really learning much but instead just filling out daily busy work assignments.

What don’t you miss?

I don’t miss trying to find a spot to park on the other side of campus every day.

What worries you about this whole situation?

I’m mostly concerned that we are unsure as to when this will end. We’re scheduled to go back in May, but no one is certain. I’m scared that 3 weeks ago was my last week at school and I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should, but I’m mostly worried that I’m not going to be able to walk at graduation due to it being a “large gathering.” I can only hope we go back in may.