The Barragans’ blooming garden, exotic pets and expansive yard provide an endless supply of outdoor entertainment, keeping third-grader Abigale and first-grader Quincy busy while school has gone remote for the next few weeks. But all the long bike rides and playtime haven’t kept their minds entirely free from the pandemic.
“I’m really worried,” Abigale said. “I’m scared for the world to end.”
For kids all across the Coastside, this was the first week of online learning and being with family all day, every day. And even as many kids celebrate a break from the school grind, the news about the rapid spread of COVID-19, the shelter-in-place order and the seemingly sudden need to wash their hands after any potential exposure is affecting all aspects of kids’ lives. It is taking a toll on some more than others.
Abigale’s brother Quincy is enjoying the extended outdoor and family time. He likes skating, playing on their trampoline and going biking with his dad every day. Abigale, who normally sees her friends at Girl Scouts, soccer and gymnastics among other places, said she never thought the virus would have such a large effect on her life.
“When I first heard about it, my younger cousin told me about it ... I was kind of surprised,” Abigale said. “I thought that we would just have to wash our hands.”
Abigale is connecting with her friends by playing online games and chatting with them on the video conferencing platform Zoom. Overall, though, she’s ready to go back to school. She wants things to go back to normal.
Basel Conroy, an eighth-grader at Sea Crest School, misses his friends, too. He said he’s enjoyed the extra time playing basketball in his driveway, but he is worried about his family.
“My mom works at the senior center, so that’s a vulnerable population, and she has to think about that issue,” Basel said. “And my grandma, I just kind of worry about her and if she’s OK.”
Sisters Chase and Avery Garhart said they were relieved when they found out high school was going online. They had seen the health warnings and were concerned about going to class during a pandemic. Plus, they thought it’d be nice to have a break from the constant cycle of the school semester.
But the first week felt overwhelming. For Chase, a freshman, school has gotten harder. The time she used to spend in class working collaboratively is now spent working through assignments on her own. Avery, a junior, is worried about college and whether she’ll be able to sit for any of her
admissions tests or visit any campuses before choosing a school. She also said she’s sad about missing out on prom and other high school traditions.
“I feel like summer just got canceled,” Avery said.
Chase and Avery said that the virus has made them more paranoid. They wash their hair and clothes more often, and every time that late-afternoon headache or sneezing fit comes around, they wonder if they’ve gotten sick. Avery said most people she knows are doing a good job of staying inside and following the rules.
“But the few people who aren’t doing that make it all pointless,” Avery said. “That’s what it feels like. When I see people hanging out with their friends, it makes me frustrated, because I want to be doing that too, but we just can’t right now.”
Instead of being with friends during their free time after school, Avery and Chase text and video chat them, go running, watch movies and have taken up cooking, although Avery said everything she’s made so far has been “disgusting.” Chase likes to go on dog walks and watch her friends surf from the shore. But she said she misses spending time with them and that virtual communication just isn’t the same.
“We have this really tight group of friends, and we’ve been FaceTiming and texting, but we haven’t been hanging out,” Chase said. “It really just feels different, it feels like they live faraway.”
Avery and Chase are worried — about the deadly virus and about closures affecting locals and businesses. They said they’ve been
following the news, but not too closely, because it feels like
all news is bad news these days. But they have seen some positive stories, like the
global environmental benefits
of massive groups of people staying inside. Avery said she got up close to a hawk on her run the other day, which is rare.
“I think that’s really interesting and a bright side,” Avery said. “Maybe the bright side isn’t just about humans, it’s about the world.”