Staying Safe at Home-A Fifth-Grader at South School Shares her Experience


Photo Courtesy of Leanne Turnak and Vivianne Kust

Fifth grader and Harborlight contributor Vivianne Kust holds up th sign of gratitude she made during this quarantine.

Vivianne Kust, South Elementary School Contributing Writer

In December of 2019, a virus outbreak started in China. It spread all around the world in 2020. Due to that virus, Hingham is on hold. Like every other person, I have had a very unusual start to this year, because of Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

I remember first learning about COVID-19 in February. My dad read an online news article summarizing the virus in Wuhan, China. I was listening to him read, very surprised. My first thoughts about COVID-19 were, “Oh my gosh! I can’t believe that there was a virus outbreak! I feel bad for the people in China.” Sitting on my couch surprised, I eventually thought, “It will pass. It’s probably just like how the flu spreads every year in the winter. No big deal.” Little did I know that in one short month, COVID-19 would cause the world to be on hold, Hingham included.

A couple weeks later, several kids in my class at South School were very concerned two people in America had COVID-19. I still thought, “That was only because they had recently traveled to China. No big deal for Hingham. They will be better soon.” I also started to think that other people may have been overreacting. But they weren’t, looking back at it now. Then at the beginning of March, events were being cancelled, such as the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and March Madness (a college basketball tournament). I was shocked and surprised. Kids even started rumors that school could be cancelled.  Then on a Thursday, March 12, I was at school and my bus was called for dismissal. I said goodbye to my teacher, Mrs. Turnak, and she responded, “Bye Vivianne! See you tomorrow!” But there was no “tomorrow” at school. 

I remember picking something up at CVS with my mom that night. After we purchased the item, we walked to our car. Inside our car, a “Ding” noise was made by my mother’s phone. Before we started the car, she picked up her phone and read her email. She told me something like, “Vivianne, we have a four day weekend. Hingham schools are closed until Tuesday. The Hingham superintendent, Dr. Austin, said parents were concerned about Coronavirus, so they will take the long weekend to make a plan.” My first reaction was, “Yay! Now I have more time to do my school project”, not even knowing that I might not even go back.

On Saturday, I received even more news. I was playing with my toys, and I heard my dad go, “Whoa”. I walked over to him and I asked, “What?” He responded, “School’s cancelled.” I said, “I know.” Then he said “No, it just got cancelled for two weeks. You will be doing school work from home, while Mom and I also work from home because of COVID.” When I heard that news, I was very sad. I wouldn’t see my friends, or my classmates and teacher, for a while. After he said that, I became more concerned about Coronavirus. 

Later that day, my dad was reading more news and he looked surprised. I walked over and asked, “What?” He said, “Now there are about 100 people in Massachusetts that tested positive for COVID, so there are likely many more people infected than were tested.” Since my dad is an epidemiologist, even though he works at a biotech now, I started to worry more. I knew that the virus wouldn’t affect me because I am in fifth grade and kids aren’t getting too sick from COVID, as I learned from my dad. But I knew it could hurt people I know who are older. Thankfully, nothing happened so far to my family and friends, but I hope nothing bad happens later.

In our fourth week at home, I started online learning.  It was really hard because I was not used to it yet. I rarely even had homework online up until that point. I felt like it was hard to stay connected to online learning, while also using a keyboard daily. I was able to keep in touch with my teacher most days through online discussions. After the first week of online learning, it felt easier and not as challenging.

When online learning became reliable without technical difficulties, I learned more news about school closure. My dad told me from an article he read that “Vivianne, I am sorry but school just got cancelled for three more weeks.” When he told me that I was even more saddened than before. 

I wasn’t sad all the time, even though it might seem like it. I still had fun with my family while passing the time. For example, my family and I play cornhole, a bean bag tossing game in our front yard, and I am getting better at it each time I play. We are also playing board games, such as Chess, Uno, and Big Boggle. Now, every Friday evening, we have family movie night together. I have also been making lots of drawings and writing a book of my own. So overall, the impact of coronavirus on my family is not too depressing on us, but I am concerned about my other family members, especially my grandma in Michigan.  

I started doing better with ways of learning online, and I got into a routine for Zoom. My Zoom usually lasts about 45 minutes or more each time. I was feeling happier that I got to see my classmates and my teacher almost every weekday. We went over our schedule and I got back to work. Sometimes we would talk about how we would hope to go back to school soon, but that was not the case unfortunately.

I remember on my best friend’s birthday we surprised her by driving to her house with the words “Happy Birthday” on our car and we sang to her about 10 yards away. That was nice because I haven’t seen her in person in 4 weeks. We were talking about school and then my best friend’s mom’s Apple watch buzzed, and she had gotten a message. She told us then that school was cancelled for the rest of the year! I was shocked, but not too surprised. At least I had learned that with my best friend.

I will admit that I was sad, and I cried when I got home, but school was only cancelled for the safety of others, and I respect that. It was not just school that was closed, but lots of other public buildings and stores were closed, also due to COVID-19. Because of that, I am at home a lot, but I do enjoy going on walks down my street and looking at all the cheerful signs and hearts placed in the windows of houses.

Speaking of hearts, I want to give a big thanks to the health care workers’ working during this time to save others. That is so brave of them to risk getting the virus to help others who already have it! Again, THANK YOU! I also want to give a big thanks to anyone who is working with the public! Mail carriers, delivery people, first responders, and more, THANKS!

I hope this pandemic is over very soon, so we can go back to our lives outside of our homes, especially to my swim team and going to the beach. But for now, let’s all take good care of each other!