On January 21, 2020, a man from Snohomish County, a recent visitor to Wuhan, China, tested positive for a deadly new virus, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States. Five weeks later, schools around Washington state began closing because of COVID-19 worries, and on March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued a statewide "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order, leaving the state's students to confront a new challenge: remote learning. In this original People's History written in August 2021, Azeem Egizi, a 12-year-old from Kenmore, writes about learning to cope during the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Not Paying Attention Whasoever'
It was a hard time during COVID, but it wasn't impossible. When you picture the COVID-19 pandemic, you might be thinking that it must have been unbearable, staying home for the majority of the time for over a year, wearing a piece of fabric over our face at all times outside ... but things haven't been that hard. I'd say that the hardest thing was the online learning.
I got up at 8:30 in the morning for a full year to stare at a computer screen that had replaced the classroom. It was a double transition since I was starting sixth grade and had to get used to Middle School and the remote model at the same time. The teachers never did anything productive; it was more like a full-on lecture for 90 minutes, three times a day or about five hours of screen time just for a bunch of instructions that no one really followed. Not to mention that since it was on the computer and this generation of kids is obsessed with video games, everyone was secretly browsing in class and not paying attention whatsoever to what was going on.
More Time for Family, Piano, Outdoors
Of course, there were some pros. For one thing, because I spent so much time at home, we got a lot more family time, and I actually learned a lot about myself. For example, I learned how much I love playing the piano, which helped me decompress between my online classes. I played all 32 Beethoven Sonatas and my favorite was the third movement of Moonlight and the impossibly difficult Hammerclavier which I someday hoped to play in front of a live audience. I still kept up with my weekly piano lessons on Zoom. My teacher lived just five minutes away from our home in Kenmore but he could no longer come over in person because we are all afraid of getting the virus and did not want to take any chances.
I spent a lot more time outdoors hiking in the woods and trails of Saint Edward Park where the old Monastery is being converted into a hotel. The park is all Washington state land that was sold to a private company that is redeveloping this historic building. My mom and I walked to the park nearly every day and watched the construction crews with their bulldozers and cranes and when they made too much noise, we scurried off to a trail that took us to the shores of Lake Washington. Then we walked back home for a late lunch and I did my homework just to get it over with.
Longing for the Library
In the evenings, my Mom, Dad and I would watch a science documentary or a Sherlock Holmes episode on DVDs that we had reserved from the library. All the branches were still closed but we could go pick up our holds at the curb and we did this every Friday afternoon. It was one of the few pleasures in our week, these hold pickups to the library where I used to spend so much time before the pandemic shutdown. If I could only name one thing that I missed the most during the lockdown, it would definitely be the library, those citadels of knowledge that gave me so much comfort. Bothell, Kenmore, Kingsgate, Kirkland. The county libraries were my home away from home. I can't wait for them to re-open and give me back my old life.
The pandemic started in March 2020, but we had heard about this mysterious COVID-19 virus ever since January. No one took it seriously, and we had two months of normality until there was a huge outbreak (one that happened at my elementary school) and even then, we thought it would only last a few weeks, maybe a few months.
Stronger and More Resilient
No one at the time could have predicted how long the lockdown would last, but it's been over a year and we're still in it, even though things are getting a little better at the time of writing. I have become used to this restricted way of living because it's simpler and less hectic. There is still a lot of stress from school since I don't like learning on the computer but I feel safe doing it at home where my mom and dad are also working and we can all stay in our pajamas and be together.
Even if I won't look back at COVID-19 fondly, I don't think of it like an existential crisis either. It wasn't the worst thing that could have happened, and all in all, I'm glad that we made it through this experience and came out of it stronger and more resilient. I no longer take things for granted. I know how unpredictable life can be and I'm more thankful than ever before to be alive and have the future to look forward to.