It’s been two years since the COVID-19 lockdown began, and it’s time to unpack what quarantining meant for the mental wellbeing of Westfield High School students.

Online learning yielded mixed feelings from students. Manavi, 12,  says, “I liked online schooling a lot, being able to just roll out of bed to join school after waking up was nice.” Mohamed, 11, “had better grades online.” 

However, one of our Westfield freshmen admits that “it was hard doing school online, and it affected my grades.” Manavi lost her studying habits, and thinks “it’s better in person in a learning aspect, when you’re face-to-face with the teacher and you’re paying attention.” Dulce, 11, stated it was “different than being in school, but I started adapting to it.” She was able to keep good grades, but it was “very stressful,” especially in the beginning.

The inability to socialize was another struggle for students. “Being a human, you’re supposed to talk to other people,” opines Huda, 9. “You didn’t get to see anyone so it’s lonely.” Many students agree. Mia, 9, thinks “being away from people is just hard.” Self-isolation caused David, 12, to “realize how precious friends are.”

Not everybody had this issue though. Dagim, 11, lived close to his friends, and was still able to see them. He “liked being at home and having time to myself, being comfortable in my space.” Damien, 12, simply enjoyed being by himself. “I just focused on myself instead of worrying about everything else.”

Some people missed physical activity. “Sports was a big thing to release all my energy. When sports stopped I couldn’t really do any of that.” Dina stated. Mohamed “couldn’t leave the house. I lost my athleticism because I wasn’t really active.” Damien felt the opposite. It was specifically during quarantine that he was able to visit the gym.

With isolation and the inaccessibility of activities came boredom for many Westfield students. “Being stuck at home all day, just staring at the ceiling sucked,” says Dina. Though she attempted to combat the feeling through solitary activities such as painting, she doesn’t feel that it significantly improved her mental health. Manavi also painted more during lockdown, but doesn’t think it helped much either. 

A lot of students turned to social media for entertainment. It was something that Manavi “got more attached to” during lockdown. “I was on it for so long,” Mohamed relates. “When I would check my screen time, it would be very high.” Additionally, he would “really judge myself. When I see people do x, y, or z, I want to do it and fit in too.”

One benefit of the pandemic was that many people were able to spend more time with their families. “My family and I didn’t really know each other before. We didn’t realize that until quarantine hit,” says Manavi. “We have family dinners which we didn’t used to have before,” she stated. ”Damien’s family was always busy before lockdown, “but quarantine really got us spending everyday together.”

The tragedies of COVID-19 have been felt around the world, including within our school. The deceased were loved ones, friends and family. Dulce experienced this firsthand, losing her beloved relatives. She wishes she had spent more time with them, stating, “I should have been with family members that were getting very ill because of COVID. That’s something I really regret now.” What helped her to overcome her grief was “family and friends, just being able to talk to them.”

Returning to a normal routine was also a challenge. When Mia came back to in-person school, socializing was more stressful. “Self-isolation definitely changes how you look at school when you come back.”

For Dagim, there were limited lasting effects. He got closer to his family but “with school eight hours a day, I don’t really see them that much.”

Mohamed’s mindset was changed. He learned that it is important to “do better things, stay healthy, and work on yourself.”

Dulce has decided to focus on herself this year. “I’m a lot more motivated and focused than I was before. Quarantine really helped me.” she stated. 

Damien sympathizes with those who were affected by the lockdown negatively, but is grateful to have had a different experience. “It definitely made me instead of breaking me,” and he learned more about himself during that time period. Overall though, most students are happy to put COVID-19 in the past.