‘My mom has COVID-19,’ and other experiences Shepherd students have endured in the pandemic of 2020

They have been called Generation C. This year, as the coronavirus pandemic swept the globe, tens of millions of students, from preschools to universities, have had their lives, their studies, and their plans severely disrupted.

That certainly has been true for students at Shepherd Academy and for other children on Indianapolis’ near east side. A harsh new reality has set it in as many parents lost jobs and families’ income evaporated. Some children watched as family members struggled to survive the coronavirus.

And even for students whose families have so far escaped the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, the adjustment to staying and studying at home has been difficult.

For Generation C, the coronavirus may well be a defining event, not only in 2020 but for years to come as the world reacts and adjusts to the pandemic — and prepares for whatever lies ahead.

Shepherd Community Center students, who’ve spent recent months learning from home via computers, were asked recently to write letters describing their experiences, thoughts, fears, and prayers from the spring of 2020. Their responses provide an insight into just how close to home this global crisis has hit.

“My mom has COVID-19, but she is doing better,” one fourth-grade student wrote. “COVID-19 affects me because I cannot see my friends. I can only hear their voices, and I do not get to have fun.”

A second child noted that the virus has threatened a family member’s health. “I do not have COVID-19, but my sister does,” a fifth-grade student wrote. “We do not live in the same house, but she is getting better. I am still worrying about her, even though I cannot see her.”

A deep sense of loss was a common theme in the letters. The losses include not being able to attend school or interact with teachers in person, not seeing friends, not participating in sports, not shopping in a grocery store with mom or dad, not attending church.

“What I don’t like about e-learning is that I can’t see my friends and teachers,” a fifth-grade student wrote. “We have to stay at home for the rest of the year, which is sad because I love the last day of school.”

An older student noted the challenge of learning from a distance, especially with subjects that aren’t a strength. “I have not liked my teacher not being face to face with me for the subjects I have trouble with. For example, math,” the student wrote. “That has been a struggle, but my older sister has helped out. COVID-19 has also affected me outside of school. I am not able to go out as much and have missed doing very simple things like go to a Kroger. Also, self-quarantining can get extremely boring after the first two weeks.”

That same student acknowledged the support he’s received as sudden changes became a part of every-day routine.

“My older sister gave me a quote when starting e-learning to help motivate me,” he wrote. “It helped me become aware that I could not fool around even if I wasn’t in a real classroom. The quote is from Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. It says ‘All successes begin with self-discipline. It starts with you.’”

And the student concluded his letter with a thought about the future:

“I am hoping for better times to come.”

So are we all, young man. So are we all.

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