Covid emergency ends, but effects linger

Learning loss is real, but I have hope for the future

Art by Kailey Billeci.

Art by Kailey Billeci.

Antonio Villalobos, Mirada Staff

On Feb. 28 Gov. Gavin Newsom declared an end to the covid emergency in California, almost three years to the day when schools—and almost everything else—shut down on March 13, 2020. 

But for kids in my generation the effects of covid continue and will probably be with us for years to come. Teens have struggled with increased mental health issues and learning loss, and a Stanford economist estimates that kids’ learning loss during the pandemic could reduce our lifetime earnings by $70,000.

But it can be hard to think about the future when we are still dealing with the effects of Covid now.

I know because my life and education were disrupted by covid, and I am just now getting back to normal. 

I was an average student and like most freshmen I was doing what I had to get by in March 2020. Then came the announcement that school was closing.

I was happy and excited because I was a little kid. I remember my mom telling me we got off two weeks, and then that turned into another two weeks, and then we were off an entire year.

I know that closing schools made sense for safety reasons. I know because I got covid–twice. 

The first time was near the end of sophomore year. I had no energy and all I could do was wheeze when I tried to breathe. The second time during junior year was worse. I was sick for two weeks, and I was throwing up constantly and didn’t want to move or get up. 

I also watched my mom and dad battle covid. I was visiting my uncle in Las Vegas in July of 2021 when my mom’s face timed me from the hospital. She had kept that she and dad were sick  from me because she wanted me to enjoy my time without any worries. They wanted me to stay with my uncle, but I went home as soon as I found out so I could take care of my little brothers.

So I know that trying to stop the spread of the disease was a good idea. But the shutdown also caused problems. 

Like all my friends, I was isolated in my room for months. My mom wouldn’t let me go out because she was afraid I would bring the disease back. I lost my social skills. The seniors that first year lost prom and graduation. Millions lost their jobs. But far worse than that, almost 7 million have died from the disease worldwide and over 1 million Americans, according to the World Health Organization.

I was lucky that my parents survived and I didn’t have any long-term effects, but in other ways I wasn’t so lucky. 

School was awful when it restarted in fall of 2020 because I’m an in person learner and zooming was impossible. Long distance learning didn’t work, the teachers were struggling even more than the students were struggling at some points. I think teachers didn’t know how to control students. In school teachers know if you have your phone, but at home you could be on your phone or in the kitchen eating and still be in class. It didn’t help that I didn’t really understand google classroom, such as how to turn in assignments. My grades were good in the beginning of the year but in the long run they fell to a D and then an F.

I had to transfer to La Entrada, a small continuation high school, the last quarter of sophomore year. I stayed there my whole junior year and most of my senior year to catch up on my missing credits. I finally completed enough credits to return to my high school last month.

I feel like I am back in a real school. I connected with friends again and even with teachers who remembered me. It feels normal, finally. I felt messed up talking to other people during the pandemic, but now I can talk to anyone. 

Now I am planning to go to community college. I lost a lot of learning the past couple of years, but I got this.