By Lisa Barr, Historical Collections Curator
Recognizing that we were living in historic times, in April, State History staff developed The Covid-19 Memory Project, which is geared towards K-12 students throughout the state. We created questionnaires for students to share their experiences during the pandemic that will become a permanent collection in State History’s archives. The themes include family, home life, school, extracurricular activities, and society. The Covid-19 Memory Project also benefits students’ understanding of the importance of documenting history by creating their own primary sources for future generations to study. The following are excerpts from multiple students’ answers, journal entries, and images:
How did you feel when you learned that schools would close because of the COVID-19 pandemic?
“When I found out that schools would be closing I was kind of sad and surprised. A few days before they closed, me and two of my friends made a quarantine group-chat not expecting anything to actually happen.”
What do you like the most about online school?
“The thing I like most about online school is that I can work at my own pace and listen to music at the same time. I also get a lot more free time to do what I want to do.”
What do you dislike the most about online school?
“I don’t like online school because I don’t get to see my friends every day, and it’s kind of easier to learn face to face rather than doing things online.”
What activities did you do before the pandemic? (Sports, music, etc. Please be specific.)
“Before the pandemic I would play baseball every Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. And if I got lucky all three days in a row. I am not the best at baseball, but it is still fun. I like baseball because I grew up watching it. Especially the Dodgers. My family and I would go to a Dodgers game once a year, it’s kinda like a tradition, but this will be the first year in a long time we won’t be able to go.”
FAMILY AND HOME
What questions do you have about the pandemic?
“1.How long is the pandemic estimated to last? 2.Is there a cure, if so how long may it take for it to be publicly used? 3.Finally, why isn’t America taking more precaution of this pandemic? It seems as if people don’t care. For instance, citizens in Florida are filling beaches as if there’s no outbreak of a dangerous virus going around killing thousands. Let me just say, what if it was your loved one who tested positive for Covid-19 and they were more prone to die?”
What has changed the most in your home because of the pandemic?
“My family is prohibited to go out unless it’s urgent or for work. We have to always always wash our hands, wear masks, and sometimes gloves when out in public. My mother has been super strict since the outbreak but I don’t blame her. This pandemic is super serious. It would be super scary for me to carry the virus especially because I have asthma.”
How have you stayed connected to extended family? How has this changed your relationships?
“I haven’t been able to stay connected to extended family. This has changed my relationships because my family has had several birthdays that we couldn’t celebrate. I feel like I’ve lost some love with my extended family because I haven’t been able to see them in so long.”
How do you spend your free time at home?
“Me and my sister have been making a movie, and we are doing that a lot. I ride my bike around the driveway and the garage. My dad set up a ninja rope for me and my sister. And I do that a lot. Utah is still not quarantined, so I play with my friends that live on my street sometimes too.”
Are you learning new skills because of the pandemic? (Cooking, babysitting, house chores, arts, crafts, etc.?) If so, what are they?
“I have been learning how to cook more complex meals, more complex workouts and diets to try, and I’ve been getting more into art recently.”
How has the pandemic affected your community? How has it affected our state?
“I used to always see kids playing outside, but now nobody goes outside unless it’s to take out the trash or getting mail. My state for the most part has been very cautious, so that means we are one of the states with the least COVID cases. That could also be because Utah has a small population.”
How do you think the pandemic might impact your life in the future?
“I’m worried about being able to learn in a traditional classroom setting again. I’m also worried about being able to get a job after I graduate college, but I guess a lot can change in four years.”
What do you want future generations to know about what it’s like to experience a pandemic?
“The county I live in was not as affected as other counties or states. After 2 months of quarantine, our county only had about 7 confirmed cases. Our community definitely responds differently than places like New York City. Some people wear a mask to stores, but most don’t. People living in big cities were better about wearing masks and being more safe. At first, I was really scared about going anywhere, but as the summer approaches, it’s getting harder and harder to just stay home. It’s a scary experience to be in, but just listen to the tips to stay safe.”
Utah Division of State History will continue to collect submissions during the pandemic. Visit our website covid-19-memory-project to download the forms to participate. Please email Lisa Barr email@example.com with any questions.