Eyewitness: Coping With the Pandemic in New Jersey

Liset’s New Jersey school has been closed since March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

My public school, which is located in New Jersey, made the switch to distance learning on March 13 because of the coronavirus pandemic. On April 7, we got another call to let us know that schools would be closed indefinitely. All non-essential workers in the state have been ordered to stay home until at least May 15. 

New Jersey is one of the hardest-hit states in the country. As of April 16, there were more than 75,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. More than 2,200 people in the state have died.



At the beginning of our distance learning program, we mostly got busy work. Gradually, our assignments became more connected to normal in-school lessons.

Nonetheless, our lessons are still limited and not as interesting because we’re not in school. In order to address this, a few teachers are doing Zoom lessons online. The classes, which are about an hour long, are not mandatory, so most students just pop in and out. The number of students on the call at one time varies from about about 5 to about 30.

Typically, at least on weekdays, I try to get an early start on my work, or else I’ll just procrastinate. I finish the assignments for my classes in the same order that I would go to them in school. For example, I start with Language Arts because that would normally be my first class of the day. It’s also my favorite subject, and I like starting the day on a positive note. Following this schedule has helped keep my mind calm during all of the disruptions.



It can be hard to find activities to do after I’ve finished my schoolwork. Lately, I’ve been helping my mom make protective masks for healthcare workers. I recently asked her how she got the idea for the project. “A group in our area came together through Facebook,” she said. “I wanted to be a part of it because healthcare professionals are sacrificing a lot, and the least we can do is help them stay healthy.” 

Along with making masks, I fill my time by watching Netflix, riding my bike, and reading. My everyday schedule hasn’t changed much other than that I wake up later and go to sleep later.

Before the quarantine, my dad worked from home, and my mom worked two minutes away. With both of them working from home now, it’s not much of a change. 

But so many things are unknown, and I have trouble staying positive. Living very close to New York City, the epicenter of COVID-19, has also made this experience even scarier than it already is. 



Photo courtesy of the author