MAY 1 - STEPHANIE HERNANDEZ (junior)
Looking back, I never thought this situation would explode into an extremely long mandatory quarantine.
In January, a friend told me about a deadly virus in the US. She said Washington had its first confirmed case, and that it had come from China. “Coronavirus…” I didn’t hear the rest as I thought the name sounded silly and I couldn’t take it seriously. News outlets weren’t talking about it as much as they do now.
Fast-forward to a month later, the virus began to draw recognition from news outlets, but it still hadn’t risen to the level of a serious concern.
I stayed in the dorms one of the weekends in February, when we had planned to go to the fair in San Jose, and someone told me that officials had reported plenty of confirmed cases there. I didn’t know if this was true or not but I didn’t feel any fear. We went to the fair, and people weren’t wearing masks and were gathering in groups -- nothing like physical distancing. Then, the juniors had their East Coast Trip cancelled and the virus started to become a little more real. But I still didn’t believe it.
Life still seemed normal.
Then one day in early March, I heard a knock on my dorm room door. I was lying on my bed, and I don’t remember who told me that we had a sudden meeting in the theatre. I was confused, because there were still three weeks until spring break. We headed to the theater where it took a while for everyone to quiet down. I still didn’t grasp that this had become serious -- it felt like someone pulling a prank. Then they told us to clean our rooms and pack up for three weeks, so we could stay at home until after the break.
At first, people felt glad to “get four weeks off”. Then they began asking all kinds of questions -- about prom, graduation, other end-of-year activities. Uncertainty was the only response we received. Before long, people began to pack, and bags, suitcases and full trash cans stood in almost every hallway.
My RF told us to call our parents. I called my mom and I heard the phone ringing. Hola. I told her, "Mami los estan diciendo que nos tenemos que llevar todo porque están cerrando la escuela." I told my mom that we had to take everything because they were closing the school. I took boxes down from the closet and began to pack everything I could take that day, and I left the rest there. I didn’t get to sleep until midnight, and I didn’t sleep comfortably that night.
We had been told to take just enough for three weeks, but that turned out to be a mistake. Five weeks have passed since then. Every day, the news leads with CORONAVIRUS. It definitely has the recognition now that it should have had in the beginning.
I remember that early on, one of my teachers predicted that the quarantine would last longer than three weeks. He joked and said, “This is like when they tell you 10 minutes at the airport, but you end up staying there for longer.” I could never have believed then that I would still be quarantined in May. The month of March felt like a blob, but at least I still had Grey’s Anatomy.