Talking with her friends, Sam walks down the hallways on her way to class. She has a group presentation to present and hopes her classmates did their part of the PowerPoint. She’s excited for school to end so she can go out to eat with her friends and hang out, maybe watch a movie or go to the game. Little did Sam know that all of that was about to change. On March 13, Richmond community schools closed and a few days later the nation would soon go under a long quarantine against COVID-19. Humans are naturally social animals. However, during quarantine people had to adapt to the lack of social stimulation they were once used to.
Although COVID-19 encouraged people to stay home as much as possible, some people were more inclined to than others because they live with high-risk people.
“Yes [I live with someone high risk],” junior Sierra Lopez said. “My brother has thyroid cancer, so I had to be really cautious.”
Others didn’t have to worry about people in their home, but had concern for people they knew.
“No one who lives with me is a high risk,” freshman Alyssa Amyx said. “But I have some friends who are. That was really hard because I was always worried about them.”
Before quarantine people socialized in different ways. Some people were more private.
“Normally, I would hang out with a few people,” senior Braidan Denton said. “We would usually just hang out at their houses or go to the river.”
Others went out to public spaces for entertainment.
“I just did the regular,” Amyx said. “Going to people’s houses, going out to eat, things like that.”
Most of Lopez’s social life was with her teammates on the field.
“Before quarantine, I had track and club soccer,” she said. “So I was busy with that and when I wasn’t, I hung out with girls from the school soccer team.”
COVID-19 and the precautions taken against it came very suddenly and drastically. Many people wonder about what the future was going to hold.
“It was definitely really hard for me,” Amyx said. “It made me mad from the start. I was scared about what would happen, and everything I loved started to be canceled. I play Volleyball and I’m part of the Richmond Thump Jumper Team. My Volleyball Club Season was canceled and so was our annual Thump Jumper performance.”
Many people stayed at home away from most things and people when quarantine first began.
“I had to stay home most of the time,” Denton said. “So [someone I live with that’s high risk] wouldn’t get sick. I sat at home all day up until the beginning of the summer, then I started hanging out with my friends again.”
Others took precautions but didn’t really have too much concern COVID-19 it was nearby.
“During quarantine, both of my sports had got canceled,” Lopez said. “But for a month, I didn’t go around people and I didn’t take the virus seriously till it was in Richmond.”
However, once quarantine hit, people had to change the ways they socialized.
“I attended a lot of Zoom Meetings and kept up with my friends through messages,” Amyx said.
Others chose small groups to hang out with in person after the initial stay-at-home order.
“Being social during quarantine,” Lopez said. “Me and a small group of friends played soccer or volleyball and went on late-night rides in the country.”
Some people went outside but took precautions.
“I wore a mask in public and I went to places that no one went to,” Denton said. “Like the river or someone else’s house. I tried to be as safe as possible when I went out.”
Although wearing a mask has become a normal part of everybody’s lives from COVID-19, it was an adjustment that had to be made at the start of quarantine that many people weren’t used to.
“Things got really scary during quarantine,” Amyx said. “Doing simple things like going out to eat couldn’t happen anymore. The mask-wearing was an issue for me at first. I really didn’t want to wear it, but that was before I realized if I didn’t, I could be hurting others too, not just myself.“
A person’s social life is a major part of their life. Some people found the lack of socializing hard to overcome.
“My mental health was bad during the time I couldn’t see people,” Denton said. “It was socially hard. I didn’t work or do anything extracurricular, so it was a drastic change from being around everyone to having barely, if any, physical contact with people.”
Lopez wasn’t extremely affected by the change in her social life during quarantine but did notice a slight decline.
“During quarantine,” she said. “I practiced soccer on my own and watched a lot on Netflix. My mental health was okay, but being stuck in the house kind of made it bad.”
Some people weren’t negatively affected but could see quarantine negatively affecting those around them.
“I didn’t do a lot during quarantine,” Amyx said. “There wasn’t much anyone could do. I don’t think it necessarily affected my mental health, but I can tell it affected others.”
At the end of summer, students had the option to either go back to school on a hybrid schedule or do school 100% virtually. People had various reasons for choosing the option they chose.
“I went back to school,” Amyx said.“I did not like the online learning at the end of the year last year, and didn’t want to do it again.”
Some virtual learners may find it complicated to socialize with people who opted to go back.
“I’m 100% virtual,” Denton said. “With me being home all day makes things easy for me, but hard for my friends who go to school all day.”
Others who play sports or have other forms of social stimulus may find it easier to cope with that divide.
“It doesn’t affect me a lot,” Lopez said. “Because I still have soccer and most of my friends play as well. I can always make plans to get out and about.”
People that chose to go back to school found the social environment to be slightly different than it was before.
“It’s pretty hard on my social life,” Amyx said. “Because a lot of my friends are in the other group, meaning they don’t go to school on the days I do, which is really hard especially as a freshman. The only thing that really changed socially for me was school. Everyone is extremely quiet and I think it’s partially because of the masks.”
COVID-19 changed everything, but by doing so, it helped people think about their lives and what’s important to them.
“This quarantine thing made me realize not to take things for granted,” Lopez said.