Behind the Mask
Onset — Indiana
I remember when COVID-19 first reached the ears of my peers at boarding school. At first, it was all laughs. Disbelief, more like. Like almost every other American teen, we never really thought that it would become what it is today.
COVID-19 first hit Connecticut, where my school is at, in early to mid-March. I remember sitting in my dorm’s common room when the first case was announced, all of us astounded that it even appeared in the state. As we were all leaving for spring break, I had talked to my friends about the possibility that we might not come back to school after it. Of course, none of us actually thought that we wouldn’t return. We jokingly hugged and blew kisses as if we were in some Hallmark rom-com.
For the first week of spring break, I went on my school’s college trip. We toured schools in New York, starting with Union College, then Syracuse, Hamilton, Colgate, Bing, Hobart and William Smith. All of the schools were still open as per usual, but there were some whispers from our admissions guides of COVID-19 on campus. Then, on our last day, our official tour at Cornell was axed. We ended up just walking around campus and having an info session, but our group was pretty shocked that they cancelled it. It’s crazy to think we might’ve been the last group of tourists at Cornell before the pandemic.
‘Course, I flew home to Indiana, and within days the nation was shut down, my school’s spring term now virtual. I’m sort of embarrassed that I never really expected Corona to be so serious. Our government definitely dropped the ball with the handling of the virus, but us regular folks also messed up by not taking it seriously from the start. I remember my mom telling me to wear a mask in the airport when flying home last March, and me laughing and thinking she was being ridiculous. If only I hadn’t been so ignorant, if only the populace hadn’t been so ignorant, we might not have still been in the midst of a national pandemic right now, exactly a year later.
— Kenadi Waymire, 18
Fort Wayne, Indiana