Postcards from Isolation
Updated: May 5, 2020
Brookfield Community School - Year 11 Perspectives on Covid-19
Our lovely Year 11 students wrote descriptively and discursively about their experiences over the two weeks from March into April. They gave me permission to edit their writing. I hope I’ve done it justice.
Stressful. That’s all I can say really.
At the start, COVID-19 was something we joked about, not something to worry about – but now? It’s the only thing we seem to be talking about. The fear of not knowing what’s to come because it’s brand new. Hearing “It’s a worse flu” time after time when in reality it is not. And from what? A bat. Something that seems so harmless is managing to affect the whole world. The effect on the health care systems, government and schools is insane. The country’s gone into lockdown for 3 weeks… and how much longer? Here’s how it has affected us.
After the news broadcast I was devastated. I thought back over my time at my school and it didn’t seem like I would have time to make the most of it. Because I was in Year 11, there was a high chance that 20 March 2020 could be my last day of full-time education ever. We were going to finish school three months early! A few months earlier, I had been thinking about how I would be finishing school in June and I would never see some of the people I’d known for five years – specifically, two of my closest friends. Thinking about this made me feel crestfallen and overwhelmed, but I was reassured by the fact I had another four-five months left. However, when it dawned on me that I might only have two days left of school I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to make the most of it and be happy, but I also wanted to cry. I knew the government was doing what was best for the country, to try and limit unnecessary contact, but it felt like they were ripping my heart out of my chest.
I had decided to meet up with my friends for one last time before the social distancing measures came in so I got home, got changed and went to a park just up my road. It was the last time I would see so many people; and the night passed away slowly; and then it has been lockdown; and it still is right now.
Stuck in my thoughts.
Stuck in my house.
The walls of my rooms are inching towards me, closing in as I struggle to breathe.
What used to be towering mountains of brick and stone, now is a miniature cardboard box that I am crammed into with little room to move or even breathe.
With the viral outbreak occurring throughout my country, it feels like forever till I will experience freedom again.
Exams and holidays all cancelled to prevent spreading of this invisible killer.
The terror that this deadly virus holds seeps through my veins and infects my thoughts. Nowhere to go, no one to meet, nothing to do.
For the most part, I agree with the plan to cancel exams because it would be unfair and unsafe to hold them in our current circumstances, and as a student in year 11, I find it a relief to have this weight on my back removed. However, as one of the people who was only just ramping up my revision for these now nonexistent exams, I feel like the rug has been pulled from under me, as well.
One subject in the mind of all students who were about to do their exams this year is the grades they will receive. Many students will admit that they don’t revise as much for mocks as they planned, which now turns on them, as instead of just being practice they are now being used as one of the deciding factors of our final grades. Whilst there are various factors, this could mean people like me might not be able to cross a grade threshold and for some, this may be the difference between passing and failing, meaning the people who weren’t revising like mocks are the real thing are at a disadvantage, especially compared to people with a similar plan of action in other years who actually got the chance to carry it out and do their exams.
I agree, that 2020 summer exams should have been cancelled, as we are living in extraordinary times in exceptional circumstances, and in order to protect our loved ones and the most vulnerable in society, we must stay home. The consequence of not closing schools could have been devastating. Schools and exam halls are mass gatherings, and these increase the speed of spread rapidly. In order to flatten the curve we must follow the government advice to allow our NHS to cope and handle the virus to protect those who are affected more dramatically by it.
Surely now more than ever, in a time of crisis, we should be united and stand with our leaders as they give advice and introduce regulations, including that of the decision to close schools and cancel examinations, as the government is trying to minimise the effects of coronavirus on the nation. Now is a time when we are needed to play our role and stay home, to applaud our key workers as they keep the world moving when it feels like we’re at a standstill.
Furthermore, these are unique times we are living in and these experiences will shape us and remain with us for the rest of our lives and, whilst these are not the circumstances we may have chosen, what we can choose is how we navigate them and our attitudes when dealing with them.
I longed to find my exams to be cancelled but now I long to find my exams back on. There are many things that I don’t miss, however: stress, tests, constant worry for no apparent reason; therefore, you may ask why do I feel disappointed? It is not as much the work and exams but the feelings that run with them that we will miss out on, that feeling of putting your pen down on the final paper and leaning back in your chair with a superior sense of finality, knowing you will be able to celebrate “The End” with your friends afterwards. It all just feels anti-climactic.
However, even though this situation is heartbreaking for those who wanted to sit those exams, we have to look at why it has been done. The government is not trying to spite us, or make our years look bad. They’re trying to do what is best for the country. They are doing this to benefit us. There has been a large increase in the amount of cases and deaths of coronavirus and the government is just trying to protect us from this. Cancelling school and exams is being done for a reason. While we are at school, whether we’re learning, or doing exams, the school becomes a breeding ground for germs. And germs and bacteria cause viruses and illnesses to spread. If we don’t stop these unnecessary large numbers of people being together, then more people will get the coronavirus, and those who have an underlying health issue that they don’t know about may die from it. Or someone may catch it and pass it onto some classed as vulnerable who is more likely to die from it. As I write this, there are over 22,000 cases of Coronavirus in the UK, and at least 1415 people have died from it. This is why we must not do exams. Surely you can understand that?
Overall, we should not let Covid-19 completely dictate our future as a country. All cancelling exams has taught us, as my geography teacher said, is to question: do exams really prove our potential as students and the future of this small Great Britain? Do you know what the funny thing is? We all said this is our year, our decade, as we took a new breath into the first few seconds on the 1st of January 2020 but all 2020 has taught us is plans never go the way we think and hope they will.
We are the Class of 2020 and we are the Covid-19 Leavers.
Katie, Anja, Jack, Emma, Anna, Alice, Kira & Emily.
My Lockdown (Un)productivity
As someone who’s been affected by the cancellation of school, as well as A Levels, I feel like this lockdown is teaching me things about myself that one can only learn when one is self-isolating, lacking face-to-face contact with the outside world - apart from through a small screen. (Praise be to the realms of modern technology.)
Needless to say, the time I’ve spent at home has been unproductive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing, although we are encouraged to stick to routine to bring a sense of normality to our lives. I know there are people on the Internet, notably Facebook, sharing what they’ve been up to: tidying the house, getting into yoga, trying different fancy coffees, cooking extravagant four course meals, climbing the tallest mountains in the world, eliminating world hunger, driving to the moon (with members of your own household, of course). All of that is great. The sudden abundance of “free” time which we now have is definitely a great opportunity to do everything you would never have done whilst you had to go to work or school, but I feel it’s important to have time to yourself where you don’t feel like you need to do something outstanding just because you have to stay at home.
It’s important to take a few days to just relax and do something fun; I know that lots of people have taken advantage of the surprisingly cheap subscription fee to Disney+. (Other subscription networks apply.) It is said that we are living through a mass-crisis, therefore I think we are well-justified to have time off. It’s okay to spend most of the day in bed. It’s okay to leave some work until tomorrow. It’s okay to wear pyjamas instead of “normal” clothes. It’s okay because you’re definitely not alone when doing so; the rest of the world staying at home, me included, are doing the same.