Oral History: March 13, 2020

Memories of the Arrival of COVID

A-Block Journalism Class

Seniors enrolled in Ms. Clawson’s honors journalism class this semester conducted a series of interviews with teachers and students at RMHS to understand how the events from March 13, 2020 played out for them. March 13th was a day when the world shut down for almost everyone. As cases of Covid-19 were spreading rapidly and other districts were already shut down for what was at first a two week period, the students at RMHS decided to voice their concerns in the form of a walkout, organized through social media platforms. This event was significant for everyone and these interviews show how some of the teachers and students at RMHS felt on that memorable day.

                                                                                     (Megan McLaughlin ‘23 & Ben DiNapoli ‘23)

Prior Knowledge about Covid-19

Victoria Bean (‘23):

I did not know much about it. I remember my biology teacher telling us that it was a horrible disease, and spread by germs, but that was about it.

Mrs. Cunningham, English:

I feel like I knew a little bit about it, I knew that it had originated in China, my students kept asking me if they were going to get it and I said, “No its in China.” I do remember a case coming to the United States, I think in December at one of the universities, but I still didn’t think it was going to affect us in the way that it did.

Mr. Dailey, History:

I knew that it was serious and you know they kind of tracked it as cases entered the country and it was spreading across the country, but I don’t think many people had an idea of the severity of it. 

Mae Squeglia (‘23):

Prior to the walk out, probably like 2 weeks before, my mom started talking about it and saying that we needed to stock up on food because she thought we were going to lock down. I thought it was only in China so I didn’t really believe that it was going to come into the US, and I didn’t know any of the actual scientific parts about it. 

Thoughts on the Walkout

Nick Mazzerella (‘23):

I think it was B-block in Ms. Correa’s room and in 408, this English class, and I remember seeing on everyone’s snapchat stories ‘Oh everyone walk out around 10 and I remember texting my mom asking thinking that there’s no way she was gonna let me leave.  I texted her saying, “Hey mom there’s a big walk out happening about covid’” and she was like ‘do you want a ride’ and I was like ‘sure’. It was kinda weird to think that I remember exactly where I was sitting in that class, just kinda surprised since it’s been so long since then. 

Elisabeth Quirbach (‘23):

It was crazy. I mean I took videos of it and just, everyone was walking out, teachers were waving bye to their students.It was just so surreal.

Mr. Strout, Business:

 I felt like we were already in the building, kids were interacting with other kids, the walkout was totally ineffective at protecting them and us, I think most kids wanted to get a day off and a start early on the potential “covid break”. 

Mr. Skehan, Math:

Um, I think it was reactionary rather than well thought out. Had the students really thought about whether they were going to be out for the next year, they might have rethought the walkout. I think they thought it was, “We’re gonna be back in a week, so it’s unfair that other kids aren’t in school.”

Mrs. Cunha, Performing Arts:

I always feel that students have the right to express how they feel, and I think- we had been going through auditions for Peter and the Star Catcher for that whole week, so there was very much a buzz about this happening and Mr. Albright was with us, whos a science teacher, so he was giving us his perspective. And so there was a lot of tension. Especially being in the building after school while things were coming out in the news, kids were scared, families were scared, teachers were scared. So the fact that there still was school that day everyone kind of felt confused-staff did. And when- I’m all for the students having an equal voice in the community, and so it made- it made sense to me. It was bizarre, it was one of those like “Wow this is really happening!” moments, but I supported it. I understood why they felt that way.

Gryffin Stoddard (‘23):

Yeah I thought it was good because there were a lot of people absent that day anyways, and the walkout showed that it should be serious and should be taken seriously.

COVID Reality

Mrs. Donahue, World Language:

So I was really frustrated because when we didn’t go back and I know, you know it was a new thing there was really no precedent, but I hadn’t really used Google Classroom before, so I learned how to use google classroom. We weren’t even doing Zoom at first. I felt very ineffective. People were saying don’t do anything, I was like what do you mean don’t do anything? You know, if there’s a way I can still teach, I want to keep teaching, which I think is best for kids to keep things as normal as possible and there were arguments over Zoom saying that it’s illegal to have Zoom–I wanted to just keep teaching. There was a concern for social and emotional stuff, but I think kids not having anything to do gave more time for worriers to worry. So, I kept trying to teach. 

Peter Tompkins (‘23):

I thought it would be like two weeks at the most, but I didn’t think it would be like a year.

Jessica Lu (‘23):

Sophomore year came around though and I remember I was quite concerned over how this Zoom thing was going to go because I remember having this whole setup ready like a college dorm room. I was also quite excited actually. But I was sad that I couldn’t see all my friends. I did like the classes better though, because there were only three classes a day which gave me an extra day to finish all my assignments.