Students recount mixed experiences with COVID-19 cases

Personal experiences with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in no way follow a set outline. COVID-19 can manifest differently, and each person has their own experience with the sickness.

Junior Ayla Conn was infected over winter break after her younger brother got sick. But since her mother and brother had already tested positive, when she began showing the same symptoms as them, she didn’t bother testing.

For some of Conn’s family, the sickness was very mild. But, for others, like her mother, Omicron was incredibly grueling. Conn found herself somewhere in the middle.

“The first day, I had really bad chills—I would go from being super super hot to freezing. I would have like 10 layers of clothes on, heating pads and blankets, and still be cold,” Conn says. “I was shaking, and my entire body hurt, from my head and my face down through my legs.”

After the first couple of days, most of Conn’s symptoms subsided, but she continued dealing with intense fatigue. 

“I would go downstairs to make lunch and that would tire me out so much that I had to lay down for two hours. It was ridiculous. My throat was hurting. I didn’t get congested until the third day, and that lasted for a while. Other than that, [after] the first two or three days, I was pretty much fine,” Conn says.

Sophomore Johanna DiGioia had a much more traumatic experience with COVID-19. She was quarantined for eleven days and, despite having both shots of the COVID vaccine, had intense symptoms that kept her in bed for a large percentage of that time.

“I didn’t get out of bed for four days. I had very severe muscular stomach pains. It hurt to walk, talk, cough, anything. I couldn’t do anything except lie down,” DiGioia says. “I was throwing up every 15 minutes, and I wasn’t really eating anything. I couldn’t sleep for more than 30 minutes or an hour, because I just kept throwing up… it was hard to take deep breaths, and I couldn’t taste, either.”

Unlike Conn and DiGioia, junior Anna Bergmann was asymptomatic and felt healthy throughout her entire quarantine. 

“I didn’t have any symptoms and felt completely fine throughout my experience. It just felt weird quarantining when I wasn’t having any symptoms,” Bergmann says. 

Bergmann tested positive Jan. 13, while sitting in her first period class. She explains the uncomfortable situation and how she handled it.

“It was kind of an awkward experience getting pulled out of class. I didn’t really know what to do, [so] when my mom texted me I just sort of stood up and made eye contact with my teacher. She was like, ‘Did you get the bad news?’ and then I just left,” Bergmann says. 

Luckily for Bergmann, she was able to complete her work during her absence, but that wasn’t the case for all students. Sophomore Johanna DiGioia experienced severe symptoms and considered a trip to the hospital. She was physically incapable of completing her work, causing her to fall behind.

“I understood [COVID] would be bad, I just didn’t understand how bad. I almost had to go to the hospital. I thought that if I got COVID I could stay up to date on my schoolwork, but there was literally no way I could have,” DiGioia says. 

While DiGioia could not complete her work due to health related issues, other students struggled completing work due to the lack of accessibility and communication, making it easy to fall behind. Junior Hannah Finkelstein tested positive on Dec. 13 and wished ETHS had a better plan for positive students to stay up to date on their assignments. 

While ETHS requested that teachers work with student’s who tested positive, there is no official policy in place from the administration defining what assignments should be waived and what assignments should be expected. 

“I wish there was a better plan for when you tested positive [because] I didn’t really know what to do, and it was just kind of confusing. I wish there was a better plan or overall just a more structured way for you not to fall behind,” Finkelstein says. 

For many people, there have been social and emotional impacts from COVID. Conn, for one, has noticed emotional and social changes in herself and her family. She notices that her family feels safer in public places because of the 90-day grace period Omicron allows

According to the CDC, if you were in close contact with someone with COVID-19, “you do not need to stay home unless you develop symptoms.”

“If you tested positive for COVID-19 with a viral test within the previous 90 days and subsequently recovered and remain without COVID-19 symptoms, you do not need to quarantine or get tested after close contact,” the CDC continues. 

“Emotionally, my family’s in a weird situation—we’re still following rules and guidelines, but we feel more comfortable traveling and going to restaurants, within a reasonable degree of caution, knowing that we’re not going to get sick for this 90-day period of time,” Conn says. “That’s impacted our plans for the year.”

Many students agree that there is more that the school could be doing about COVID. 

The disorganization and lack of communication surrounding online classes for positive students seems to be a common opinion across many students at ETHS. Similar to Finkelstein, Conn was disappointed in how the situation was handled. However, she noticed one particular problem in how the P.E. classes adapted.

“Nobody should be sick at home and be getting a C in gym class. I think they need to revise that. If you’re sick, or even if you have a family emergency or something, you shouldn’t be getting points off for gym,” Conn says. “I’m not stressed about AP Bio. I’m not stressed about math. I’m stressed about gym.”

 The Omicron variant affected students differently with regards to health and school. While some experienced fear-worthy symptoms, others didn’t even have a stuffy nose. However, the most common opinion about Omicron at ETHS is the stress that comes with missing school.

“I felt a little behind in school. I only missed two days but [i felt] helpless feeling because I couldn’t do anything besides hope I didn’t miss any important lessons,” Bergmann says.

“Emotionally, my family’s in a weird situation—we’re still following rules and guidelines, but we feel more comfortable traveling and going to restaurants, within a reasonable degree of caution, knowing that we’re not going to get sick for this 90-day period of time,” Conn says. “That’s impacted our plans for the year.”

DiGioi expresses a similar sentiment.

“There are a lot of people who COVID is impacting, and they’re not able to get to class and get their classwork done,” DiGioia says. “You can’t reach your teachers and you’re feeling so behind in your classes and you can’t ask your teachers what’s going on– the lack of communication makes you feel so alone.”

As a result of COVID-19 experiences being so incredibly varied, many people brush off the virus as “the flu” or like “getting a cold”. But this is not always the case. DiGioia says that people online ignoring the severity of COVID is damaging.

“Seeing people online talk about how COVID is fine if they’re a young person with a fine immune system [was frustrating],” DiGioia says. “I was not fine. And even if it’s just a few people getting as sick as me, I don’t think it’s worth people making light of it… it’s gonna be three months since I had COVID on March 5, and I’m very worried about getting it again.”