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Bruins battle quarantine boredom, blues

As students can’t leave their homes and everything around is closed, including basic public places like local playgrounds, they are left to find new ways to stay entertained. Photo by Sonora Slater

Today marks the end of the first week of distance learning and the second week of school closure due to COVID-19. Though students are mandated to stay away from campus, this is anything but a vacation. The daily routine of seeing and engaging with peers has been bombarded by the current stay-at-home order issued by Governor Gavin Newsom on March 19. This quarantine lifestyle has taken a toll on the student body and staff, and though Bruins know they are staying healthy by remaining within their homes, many now struggle with boredom, stress over distance learning, feelings of isolation, and so on.

Students voiced their opinions on the greatest challenges during quarantine. Junior Emma Cutter lamented the changes in her usual routine.

“I think the most difficult part of quarantine would be not being able to have my normal schedule,” she said. “It’s really throwing me off!”

Senior Caleb Lowry also said that he’s struggling to adjust to these drastic changes.

“The most difficult part for me is finding motivation to do things like school work or exercise, because being inside all the time just makes me lazy,” he said.

Freshman Gena Chavez spoke to her concerns about the challenges facing her family.

“The most difficult part of quarantine has been money for me and my family,” she said. “Both of my parents got laid off for a couple weeks. And a couple weeks without income is a big blow, but we’re managing, and my stepdad will be back on the first.”

Senior Adam Merrill said that he’s been challenged by an unbreakable sense of isolation without contact outside of a screen. 

“It is definitely making me feel lonely,” he said. “I’ve spent hours on video calls with people, which I’m very grateful we have the technology for, but phones should be used to supplement, not replace human interaction.”

Sophomore Griffen Dresbach-Hill said that he misses his friends and feels apprehension toward distance learning.

“The most difficult part of quarantine has been being away from my friends and feeling the stress of learning how to learn from home,” he said.  

Sophomore Allison Whiting also has qualms about distance learning, saying that she misses the help that teachers can readily provide in class.

“I miss certain classes, because it is hard to do school work at home without some lectures, but it’s been getting easier,” said Whiting. 

Senior Grace Billingsley said that she’s found it difficult to cope with the excess boredom she faces.

“The most difficult part of quarantine has been dealing with boredom,” she said. “School and extracurriculars give me a purpose, and right now, I am stuck in a grey area where I’ve lost that purpose.”

Senior Ben Overmire added that he’s struggled to cope with the time and potential memories lost as a member of the graduating class of 2020. 

“Most difficult part would definitely be my being separated from all of my friends, and the feeling of being robbed of the remainder of my senior year,” he said. “It’s a lot to think about, and it’s difficult.”

Teachers weighed in with their challenges as well. Government Teacher Jeffery Carrow admitted that he’s finding it hard to process the frightening reality of the virus. 

“The most difficult part is knowing that the virus is really happening, and that people are getting sick and dying, and no one can seem to stop it,” said Mr. Carrow. “It scares me and makes me think about all the people I love and all the things I still want to do and places I still want to see.”

Mr. Carrow is also feeling a lack of interaction and engagement.

“It’s not great for me as I am a really social person, and being cooped up is not my gig at all,” said Mr. Carrow. “I crave interaction, I’m a talker, a listener, a jokester. I want to be back at school, I want to be back at The Crazy Horse playing the jukebox, eating, listening to the band, and meeting new friends, and having little parties at my apartment. The good times… laughing, singing, dancing.”

Merrill remembered other simple pleasures, such as driving, that he wishes were still a part of his daily routine. 

“Surprisingly I miss driving,” he said.” I used to hate driving, but I went to get the mail yesterday in my car, and I was surprised by how much I missed just singing badly to music on the way to school.”

Cutter emphasizes that she misses participating in extracurriculars. 

“I miss swim the most at this point,” she said. “I’m sad that the season is over.”

Junior Ava Graham shared a similar longing for the activities she engaged in at school.

“I miss the interactions with everyone at school, being able to work on fun projects, and the extracurricular activities like the Bulletin and theater,” she said.

Lowry reminisced on memories of socializing and of the sports he played for.

“I miss seeing people the most, and going to school everyday, and having interactions with people,” he said. “And I also really miss the tennis team.”

Mr. Carrow reported missing “everything,” and went on to elaborate.

“Classes, students, colleagues, tennis, going out to eat, hanging out with all my friends in Nevada City, dancing, live music, traveling, talking with people I meet,” he said. “You know, my whole life.”

Get Focused Stay Focused Teacher Josie Andrews talked about the lost connections she formed in the past with students and staff that are making this time hard for her.

“I miss the students,” said Ms. Andrews. “I only have semester long classes, and we were just getting to know each other and getting into a groove. I miss the library, and Jessica, and getting to connect with students in my role as a librarian. I went in this week to get some work done. It’s so sad and empty. I cried.”

But during this difficult time in history, Bruins are still able to find hope in each day. Students remain strong in the combat against issues of boredom and loneliness. Merrill shared the hobbies he’s using to keep himself busy.

“I’ve been playing a lot of Animal Crossing,” he said. “Today, I’m going to make sourdough bread, because it takes like 2 days to make it right, so that should eat up some time.”

Billingsley is entertaining herself with popular streaming apps and household chores.

“I have started subscriptions to Netflix and Disney plus, and watched a lot of YouTube, baked, cleaned, and slept a lot,” she said.

She continued by giving her methods of avoiding feelings of isolation.

“I have tried to just keep up communication with my friends, even just by sending them memes,” she said. “And I discuss my stress with my parents to try and keep it to a minimum. Also, I’ve tried to connect with new people online through my ASU (Arizona State University) forum and Bumble.”

Dresbach-Hill said that he is thankful to have his family for the company they keep.

“I don’t feel lonely because of the mandated isolation, because I have my family home which has been a great thing,” he said. “And I know it is for a good reason, because it will help us control the spread of the Coronavirus.”

Lowry felt the same about those in his household.

“I don’t really feel lonely. There are a lot of people in my house…  and that really helps.”

Ms. Andrews is keeping herself busy with family and volunteer work.

“I’m not bored at all,” said Ms. Andrews. “I have two teenagers at home, so arguing with them keeps me occupied. We go for walks, work on homework, do stuff around the house. Once I found out we would be out of school for an extended period, I contacted the animal shelter and we’ve been fostering dogs. I’m looking for more volunteer opportunities too. I make an effort to connect with students too. We do daily Google meets mostly to talk about school stuff. But really, it’s a way to just check in and see how everyone is managing.”

She continued to report that she is not only avoiding loneliness, but she is also finding more value in the connections she has.

“I’m not feeling lonely,” she said. “There’s five people in my house, plus the puppies! A lot of my friends do weekly or bi-weekly Zoom meetings, just to check in. It’s been great. I’ve gotten to hang out with friends that I haven’t seen in years. It’s been great to re-establish those connections. It sucks that it’s a global pandemic that forces us to reconnect, but it’s amazing to get to see old friends. I’ve also been making an effort to reach out to people that I care about but have  lost touch with over the years. I think this experience has helped me realize how important those connections are.”

With no clear conclusion ahead, only one thing is definite: This is an unprecedented time of change and uncertainty. The important thing to remember is that despite social distancing, none of us should have to go through this alone. We must keep ourselves busy, and more importantly, keep ourselves connected through technology and family bonding. As Bruins, we have the grit to get through these dark times. And as Mr. Carrow has predicted “… when this is all behind us, we’re going to have a renaissance.”

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Bruins battle quarantine boredom, blues