COVID-19 in Elmhurst: A year in the making
March 12, 2021
This Saturday will mark the anniversary of Elmhurst CUSD 205 schools’ closure due to COVID-19. On March 13, 2020, York sent students home excited for an extended spring break. However, two weeks of spring break and a single week of remote learning turned into the cancellation of in person learning for the remainder of the academic school year as borders closed and hospitals filled.
Most students remember March 13 as an exciting day. After rumors of rising cases and nearby school closures, students finally got their wish for a two week spring break with an extra week of remote learning.
“I remember feeling that this was going to go away super quickly,” junior Kayla Tutunji said. “After talking to my friends and family during that day, we all thought that this would only last for a few weeks and that we wouldn’t even have to e-learn after the two week break we had. I was super excited to have those two weeks off and thought we would be right back to normal. However, going deeper into it, I began to get more worried as the numbers kept rising.”
More and more students and Elmhurst citizens began to share these worries as Elmhurst CUSD 205 announced their online learning plan for the rest of the academic year in April. While some students found it easy to adjust to remote learning, the situation proved more difficult for others.
“I believe the most challenging thing this year was being accountable for your own learning,” junior Maria Vitullo said. “There isn’t a teacher at your house telling you to do your work. Instead, you are responsible for your own work and education.”
Others found the social aspect of lockdown and e-learning to be the most challenging as Governor Prizker announced the “Stay at Home Order” on March 20. Throughout the pandemic, Elmhurst citizens, especially those in their teenage years, have found it tough to be separated from friends and family.
“The most challenging part of this year for anyone I’ve talked to is the fact that we can’t see our friends and do fun activities anymore in person,” Tutunji said. “I miss being in crowds, going shopping, and just hanging out with my friends like normal, without masks and distancing. I miss being close around others and the in person connections that I’ve been lacking have definitely been the most challenging aspect for me.”
Even so, this pandemic has also resulted in some beneficial aspects. For example, many students have noticed that the relationship between family members has grown as they are able to spend more time at home with one another.
“The best thing that came out of this year was the bond that was created between my parents, my brother and myself,” junior Emily Fujiwara said. “Normally we all have very busy schedules with my softball team and my mom working, but this year we were able to spend more time together which was a positive change. We made a point of having at least one meal of the day together which was rarely possible before the pandemic with our conflicting schedules.”
With all of the restrictions brought on by the pandemic and stay-at-home orders, students have learned to appreciate several common occurrences and experiences that they otherwise would not have valued as highly.
“I have learned to appreciate the little things in life that bring me joy,” junior Lauren Gentile said. “Being able to go to the store after being stuck at home for months and spending more time with my parents are things that I look forward to now. Before coronavirus I definitely did not realize how important these things could be.”
On top of learning to cherish the simple things in life, this year has also taught many highschoolers valuable life lessons.
“One thing I and many others have learned is to not take anything for granted in life because there have been so many changes and so many unpredictable adaptations to our new lives under the current circumstances,” junior Rocky Spizzirri said.
However, an end is in sight at last. According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, about 10.25% of the total population in Illinois has been fully vaccinated. While that percentage may not seem very large, it accounts for over a million Illinois residents. Slowly but surely, more Elmhurst citizens will be able to add to those numbers as they receive their vaccinations.
“I am excited to hang out with my friends again once we get the vaccine, to be able to be more carefree and actually be a teenager again,” Gentile said. “I can’t wait to get back to a new sense of normal.”
That normalcy that we once took for granted seems to be what most people want back. After one full year living during the COVID-19 pandemic, many people now value the simple things.
“Once we are able to get back to a somewhat normal lifestyle,” Fujiwara said, “I am looking forward to seeing my family members and hugging them. I am also looking forward to getting back onto the field with the varsity softball team and playing for the state title!”