Community Voices / Kids in the time of COVID

Schools are closed, playgrounds included, as people of all ages practice social distancing and sheltering in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Above, while the Lowell Elementary School playground was among those unnaturally quiet on a sunny day, teachers up the block were distributing bags of school supplies to parents in cars in front of the south-side Bellingham school. (Amy Nelson photo © 2020)

Very few kids would trade being able to see and hang out with friends, participate in football and other sports, go to restaurants now and then, and even go to school every day for being confined at home with their families, all day, every day. But that’s where they are for now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has closed schools around Washington state, pushing lessons online and curtailing many activities to help defeat the virus.

Kids are missing their friends and the normal flow of life, but learning along the way. Here’s what a few have to say about the experience. 

The patience factor

The first news I heard about coronavirus was that it was a disease. Then I learned more as it got worse, that it came to America and schools started to shut down because it was dangerous. I don’t like it because I can’t do anything. I worry about my mom because she has diabetes. But I know that we are being really healthy and careful. I want to be able to still live my life in a normal way.

Staying home, I get a lot of stuff done. For example, I get all my school work done; watch a movie every night, sleep in, not rush to go somewhere all the time. The worst thing: our family is becoming less patient with each other. The things I miss most are friends, playing volleyball, going skiing, seeing some of my teachers, going to restaurants, and being around people. But staying home, I’ve made a solar oven; I’m learning schoolwork on a computer; and I’m getting into nature photography, too.

If there are other kids who are just learning about the coronavirus, my advice is that you are going to get irritated with your family, but let them know you are trying to be patient and that may make it easier.

Ella, age 12; Kulshan Middle School, Bellingham

Now you’re cooking!

The first thing I remember hearing about the coronavirus was that it’s deadly and started in China. Now, I think it’s horrible and horrid because we can’t see our friends, we can’t go to school, and people are dying. One question I have is whether [we are being told] lies about the coronavirus and about China?

The best thing about staying home is being able to play with my mom and my dog, Mochi. The weather feels so good right now. It’s good being able to spend time outside, creating our own cooking show on YouTube called “Everyone Eats,” and enjoying our new hammock. The worst thing is not being able to see my friends. I miss going out to eat, going to Ninja Zone at Northcoast Gymnastics, and going to the mall. Since I’ve been home I learned how to dig out a tree and am learning Japanese and new math concepts.

My advice for a kid just learning about coronavirus: Stay home, stay safe, be cautious. If you go outside, make sure you socially distance yourself.”

Kian, age 10; Wade King Elementary, Bellingham.

Stay home, stay safe

The first things I remember hearing about coronavirus were that it is very contagious and it’s spreading fast. Now, I know it’s very important to stay inside because it is very easily transmittable.

When I stay inside I always have food and anything I need at any time whereas at school, you don’t always have access to food and stuff like that. The worst thing is that I don’t get to see my friends. I miss my friends and social interaction in general. I want to get out of the house and travel. But staying at home, I learned how to braid my own hair and I baked some recipes.

I’d tell a kid who was just learning about the coronavirus that it is very important that you stay home because it spreads fast and can become a big problem really fast.

Seema, age 14; Tillicum Middle School, Bellevue

How can we kill that virus?

The first thing I heard about the coronavirus was that eight people died and that old people should not go out of their houses. I don’t like the coronavirus. Who made it? I think animals made it and gave it to a girl in Seattle. How was it made? How do we kill it and make it never come back?

The best thing about having to stay home is I don’t have to wake up really early. The worst thing is not seeing my friends and not playing football with them. And I miss school where we had four snacks a day.

If kids are just learning about coronavirus, I’d tell them to make sure your grandma and grandpa are safe. I don’t want you to die, so stay safe.

Tony, age 8; Silver Beach Elementary School, Bellingham

Quarantine? It’s boring!

The first time I heard about coronavirus was that it came from China or from a bat. It’s something that’s very sad. It’s very hard to get through these tough times. I don’t know how it started—was it a pangolin or a bat?

The best thing about staying home so much is that once you finish your school work for the day, you’re done for the rest of the day. The worst thing is that you can’t see your friends or family—and that’s what I miss the most. What I have learned in quarantine is that it’s very boring. I wouldn’t recommend it to others if they had a cold or something.

If a kid were just learning about this, I’d them to stay at least six feet away from people and avoid as much contact as possible.

Senet, age 11; Puesta del Sol Elementary School, Bellevue

Staying home? Annoying but necessary

The first thing I remember hearing about the coronavirus was that there was a new virus that was infecting people in Wuhan, China, that was called COVID-19. Then it started spreading all over China, and I heard about the cruise ship that got quarantined, and how the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was in Everett. I think of coronavirus as a global pandemic that is affecting billions of people worldwide. I know that we need to stay in self-quarantine, so that this doesn’t have to last any longer than it needs to, no matter how much we wish we didn’t have to.

The best thing about staying home so much is that I have a lot more time to relax. I don’t have to think about getting ready to go here, now, and remembering that this is happening. I can just make a list of all the things I need to do that day, and one by one do them, without a rigorous schedule.

The worst thing about staying home so much is that I’m stuck with the same people for an uncertain amount of time, and they annoy me more every day. No doubt about it, I miss my friends most. We do FaceTime almost every day, but it’s not the same as being able to hang out and talk with people. Especially since schools have been closed for the rest of the year, it’s even harder to know when we’re going to be able to see each other in person again. I haven’t really learned to do anything new since we’ve been staying at home, but I have started to actually practice my tennis skills.

Here’s what I would tell a kid who’s just learning about coronavirus and is just starting to stay at home: It might seem stupid or annoying, but in the big picture, this is absolutely necessary. You need to stay friendly with the people you’re stuck with because it’s going to be a long time, but once you get into the groove of things, it doesn’t seem that bad, and time starts to pass quicker.

Liam, age 13; Fairhaven Middle School, Bellingham