For many, March 2020 was the last month of normalcy before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Now, a year later, the Albion community reflects back on when they first heard the announcement.
“The moment was weird. It was like time stopped,” said Domonic McDonald, a junior from Albion. “It was an apocalyptic moment. We kind of depersonalized from real life.”
Claire Nickerson, a sophomore from Battle Creek, said she remembered talking about the virus while in class. In addition to this, she remembered talking about what other colleges were doing at the time.
“I remember talking in my geology class about how U of M and MSU were going online, and I thought that wasn’t going to happen to us. Those are big schools,” said Nickerson.
Other students were holding gatherings or were hanging out in their dorm rooms when Albion’s administration sent out the email telling them they needed to leave campus.
“I think we were at a mixer, all having a good time, then the next day we all got an email saying we had 48 hours to leave,” said Nate Periat, a senior from Toledo, Ohio.
Some students remember watching how hard it was on their senior friends and the many emotions they experienced when they realized they would not be completing their senior year on campus.
“I remember getting an email about classes going online,” said Hannah Erickson, a senior from Birmingham. “I was living with three other seniors at the time, and they were going through so many different emotions. It was really kind of night and day.”
With COVID-19 being such a novel disease, many did not think it would become as serious as it has or last nearly as long.
“At the time I thought this was going to be a really short thing. I thought it was going to be serious but not as serious as it has turned out to be,” said Nickerson.
In the year that the pandemic has continued, some students have had families affected by the pandemic or have even been affected by the virus themselves.
“My family has had it. I haven’t had it, but my family has,” said Periat. “I was just kind of surprised at how quickly it spread.”
Similarly, McDonald did not expect the virus to hit so close to home.
“I kind of thought about it like Ebola,” said McDonald, “I have lost a lot of people from it. I didn’t expect my family members to pass from something so sudden. It doesn’t care. It doesn’t discriminate.”
McDonald used to be on the track and field team, but with the pandemic at large, he did not feel comfortable competing and decided not to participate in sports this year. This is one of many difficult decisions students have made over the past year due to the virus.
“I miss it. I wish it wasn’t the way it is now with the masks,” said McDonald, “I’m not ignorant. I understand the reason why we need to wear masks, but it adds this level of stress there was not before. I want to be an athlete, but at the same time, I’m worrying about whether this person has COVID-19. Now do I have it? Am I good? Can I perform the same with my mask on? It was just too much.”
Even first year student Bianca Chavez from Dallas said she remembered what it was like for her during her last few weeks of high school.
“It was the week before spring break, so we weren’t really doing much in our classes and just reviewing for APs which were coming up after spring break,” said Chavez, “At the time, I didn’t really know the extent [of the virus]. I knew it was a real thing, but everyone kept saying it was like the flu. I thought maybe they’ll give us two more weeks off for spring break, and then we just never went back.”
Now, with a year of pandemic experience under their belts, students are beginning to come up with advice that they would offer to their past selves if they had the chance. Many students shared sentiments of enjoying every moment they can with friends and family in a normal, non-pandemic environment.
“Don’t take every day for granted. Live in the moment, enjoy yourself and enjoy your friends,” said Periat.
Erickson shared those sentiments in addition to sharing her thoughts on how to stay positive during such dreary times.
“Accept what you are able to do at this time,” said Erickson. “It is really easy to think about the what-ifs and what we’re missing out on, but I think about swimming and being on campus and I am grateful for the time I get to spend here.”