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From Barely Affected to Newly Infected

Updated: Nov 24

Four College Students on Their COVID Experience

An Insider Exclusive








Zoom classes. Masks. Remote learning. Social distancing. The Pandemic of 2020 is shaping the lives of students on campuses across America. This week, with COVID surging to all-time highs, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention even recommended that college students not travel home for the Thanksgiving holiday. Those who decide to go anyway were warned to take extra precautions, including quarantining before returning home and getting tested.


The Insider speaks this week to four college students about what it is like to be enrolled in school in the midst of a health crisis. Their circumstances vary widely, as do the situations at their individual schools. Some of them have been affected by COVID personally, while others have been lucky enough to view it from a relative distance. But one thing Is certain: no one in Generation P will ever forget the unique experience of higher education in the middle of a pandemic.


Lina Berman

Michigan State University/ East Lansing, Michigan

Neuroscience

Sophomore

Age: 19


The Insider: What happened with COVID when you went back to school this semester?


Lina Berman: One of my friends got a fever and she got tested and we all quarantined in our rooms. Then once she came back positive, I three-days later, on September 14, we all got tested immediately. Within half-an-hour the whole sorority house was gone in different cars and we all got tested and waited in line for about three hours, because the line is crazy here.


The Insider: So you were living in a room with them?


Lina Berman: I have a single, I am by myself.


The Insider: So everybody in the house went and got tested?


Lina Berman: Yes.


The Insider: Approximately how many people are there?


Lina Berman: At that point, we probably had about 20, 21.


The Insider: Wow! What were the results?


Lina Berman: Well the girl who tested positive is my close friend so there were four of us total. It was me, my friend who had already tested positive, my other close friend, and another close friend, because we all spent the most time together. So I had a feeling, I was the last one to get my results, so I had a feeling at that point that I was positive.


The Insider: Were you having symptoms by then?


Lina Berman: We had mild symptoms, all of us.


The Insider: What were your symptoms?


Lina Berman: Throughout the whole thing, I had loss of smell, loss of taste, headaches, fatigue. I didn't have as thermometer for a while, but I don't think I had a fever, but I also didn't have a thermometer for like half of it, so my aunt sent me one in the mail.


But I think that because we were all college students and we were all tired and looking at our screens all day anyway, we were already really tired, so we just thought it was that. It was allergy season for the fall too, so some people in the house had sniffles, even if they didn't test . No one knew what was what. So I think at least for me I was kind of in denial a little bit. Like I didn't think I had it at first, but then once my friends had it I was like, "Oh I probably have it." But at some point throughout the week I lost some of those like taste and smell.


The Insider: And as soon as you found out, what was your reaction?


Lina Berman:When my first friend tested positive, I had cried. It was the closest person I had known to get COVID. When I tested positive, I was concerned and stressed because I had been careful. However, after finding out about my friend's’ test result, I was emotionally prepared for a positive result. It was stressful because I had to move out of my house immediately. People who got COVID in the house were moved to these apartments that my mom referred to as “COVID Row.” The company that owns our house also owns these apartments and kept them for people who needed them to isolate in during the pandemic this school year. They only had one apartment available and I took the last one.


The Insider: How long did you have it for?


Lina Berman: They say that once you test positive or experience symptoms, you should stay isolated for ten days. I did everything up to protocol. But I don't know when it stops, because you can have antibodies for a really long time, because I got antibody tested a couple of weekends later.


The Insider: Did you have antibodies?


Lina Berman: Yes. But they tell you not to get tested through your nasal cavity or your nose, because you could technically keep testing positive for up to three to six months. I'm going to plan on getting the antibody test again until it doesn't show it anymore. and then I can start getting tested again.


The Insider: So what did you do, did you isolate for ten days or quarantine for ten days?


Lina Berman: Yes, yes. I found out around 7:30 PM, it was a Wednesday, I believe. An hour later, I packed up. An hour later, I was at the apartments. Then I stayed at the apartments for a full ten days and then you get to leave the next morning after the full ten days. So I was probably there for really like eleven-ish days, including like the night and the morning of the next day.


The Insider: Were you doing schoolwork during this time?


Lina Berman: Yes, I didn't tell any professors that I had COVID.


The Insider: Because?


Lina Berman: I didn't have bad enough symptoms and I wasn't tired enough to not go to class and also I had as much time like on my hands as I would ever have.. I could do absolutely nothing, so might as well just do my schoolwork.


The Insider: That's really admirable! I don't know how you concentrated.


Lina Berman: I don't know. I guess a lot of people stay where they are and isolate, so they still have all of their stuff, but I just brought what I needed and then my aunt sent me some stuff, but it was only stuff I would use to cook or clean or stuff, so it wasn't anything entertaining. So I would basically watch a ton of Netflix or work on homework. But I was on top of my work the most that week.


The Insider: Yes it sounds like it. That's very impressive.. So how long until your friends got better? Did everybody get better pretty fast?


Lina Berman: Oh yeah. None of us really had…we didn't notice that we had it, except for my friend who got her fever, but her fever was over within 24 hours and the rest of us just had like mild symptoms. None of us were really sick, so we got better fast. It was just more of a boring week.


The Insider: Oh, that's interesting. So I guess it's true that younger people weather it more easily.


Lina Berman: I think that are some people who still get really bad symptoms who are young. But I had another friend in Wisconsin who got it too and she was about the same as me… I didn't get a cough, just got tired mostly,. I think it just tires you out more than you're expecting.


The Insider: You having any lingering symptoms? Do you still have fatigue from it?


Lina Berman: I don't think I still have fatigue from it. I think sometimes I think I can smell differently. I have a really good sense of smell: My mom always says I should test perfumes, because I can smell everything. But I think it's just altered a little bit. It's not quite as sharp.


The Insider: Please ell me the exact date that you got tested.


Lina Berman: September 14th.


The Insider: Wow, so that was soon after getting back to school.


Lina Berman: Yes. Then I got my results the 16th at night. We were also recruiting during this like online via Zoom, so there was a lot going on.


The Insider: Did you tell the people who were rushing the sorority that you had COVID? Did they know?


Lina Berman: I didn't, We were completely done by the time I had found out. So I didn't need to mention it. But I mean I would have. In our house we are very open about it if you're going to get tested, because it involves everyone and people prefer honesty over you know.


The Insider: Oh absolutely, you can't lie about this one.


Lina Berman: Yes.


The Insider: What kind of situation did you walk into when you came back to school? Was there as crisis, an outbreak on campus at that point? Were things bad when you got it around the campus?


Lina Berman: Yes. Around the time I got it numbers were rising. Around the time I tested positive, our house and a bunch of other sororities and fraternities or other houses had a great number of people, because we have a lot of houses here that can hold a bunch of people even if it's not Greek life.


Basically, houses with a certain number living there were put on a mandatory quarantine, so we would have to stay in our house. And basically all of campus and then the extension of where a bunch of people who live away from campus, that are just off of campus were placed on, I don't know if it was a full quarantine, but a watch. Like they were extra cautious of those areas and then my house was put on a quarantine by the Health Department.


The Insider: What is the situation on campus now, COVID-wise?


Lina Berman: I'm actually not quite sure. I haven't heard it being any worse, but I would say it's been consistently not great here. It's a college campus, so you can't stop everyone. But also at this point probably a bunch of people have had it, so less people can get it for awhile or that's what studies say or the CDC says.


The Insider: How has the administration has handled it at school? Have you been satisfied or dissatisfied?.


Lina Berman: I don't think I have an opinion. I think they're trying.


The Insider: What do other people think? What does the general student body think of how the administration is doing?


Lina Berman: People in my house, I would say, do care a lot about it and we've been I would say fairly good and people would say that a bunch of fraternities and sororities aren't being good, but we haven't really gone out that much. I would say, as a whole, the student body is just annoyed that they can't have tailgates and can't go out. I think people want their college experience and they're annoyed by it. But then the same thing people are going out anyway and getting sick, so…


The Insider: Does everybody wear a mask on campus?


Lina Berman: Everyone's supposed to have a mask on campus. I think everyone does. I even walk with my mask for the most part, unless I really need to take a breather, but even so it's usually when there's not a big crowd around. I also live more in the neighborhood than right on campus. But everyone has a mask or they're supposed to have a mask.


The Insider: What are the other sort of should's? What should people be doing?


Lina Berman: People should be socially distancing, People aren't supposed to be at large gatherings. Technically my house exceeds the limit, but that's just because we all live together, so iit's not against the rules, but we can't have like a separate gathering with other people. But I don't know what the new should's are because Michigan just changed it last night.


The Insider: Yes. So you must feel kind of buffeted around by all of this. Things keep changing and happening.


Lina Berman: Right. It wasn't that big of a change. I don't really go out to eat that much. I hadn't been in a restaurant -- the last time I was in a restaurant was right the week before everything shut down. Then I hadn't been in a restaurant again since, until after I had COVID. I really haven't gone that much since then, maybe only a couple of times. So it doesn’t change much because we just carry out anyway or grocery shop.


The Insider: Tell me what's not happening on campus? I'm sure there are no sports, right?


Lina Berman: We have football. We have sports still, but there's something really strict for them. I think they get tested a bunch. I think that they can only really see each other. There's no tailgating technically, but it was really funny on game day to see a bunch of people, but as cops showed up, you could see people dispersing.


The Insider: So there's a temptation to break the rules on campus.


Lina Berman: I guess so.


The Insider: For a lot of people, not you, It sounds like you're being very strict.


Lina Berman: Yes,. I don't think,anyone in our house went to a tailgate. We all watched the game with a mask inside though on the TV.


The Insider: Do you wear a mask around the house, is that how it works?


Lina Berman: Yes, in common areas.


The Insider: That makes sense. Is there anything else about your COVID experience that you think would enlighten me?


Lina Berman: It’s funny from my family. We're very closely connected at least to our extended family and I've never received so many text messages asking me about COVID or just to talk. In one weekend, I've got so many text messages from family members.


The Insider: And what are they saying, what types of things?


Lina Berman: It was just the same, "Oh my gosh you have COVID! Are you okay? How are you? What does it feel like? You're the first person in the family..' They asked me a bunch, will we ever get it? Asking me if I need anything.


My mom was funny. At that point, since my friends had tested positive on the previous two days, she knew I had it before I even knew.She said I sounded tired on the phone. So I told her and she was like watching a show I think and she was like, "Okay, that's unfortunate." It was like, "I'll call you later." (Laughs)


So I had to pack up. But I think just it wasn't that big of a reaction from the both of us because we were prepared for it. At that point it was my three closest friends that I probably spent the most time with so you know I just… It would make no sense if I didn't have it I guess.


The Insider: Well you're right with the times. You had the 2020 experience now.


Lina Berman: Yes.


The Insider: I'm glad you're over it. Did you feel very isolated when you were in your apartment, when you were in that room?


Lina Berman: I thought I would and some days I did, but for at least the girls who were there we would FaceTime for every meal, so that it wouldn't be like alone or feel as alone and if we got bored we would FaceTime. But I honestly think we just committed a lot to our studies that week. We probably should have taken that excuse and just been like, "We can't show up today." But it gets boring just watching TV all day , I couldn't do it the whole time.


The Insider: Right. It's so impressive that you did your schoolwork during this, It's really amazing that you got anything done while this was going on, That's great.


Lina Berman: Thank you, yes.


The Insider: What is the school doing about next term? Are classes remote? Will there be any in-person classes?


Lina Berman: This semester is all online. Next semester, they were supposed to add more hybrid, but it was supposed to be for people who are trying to graduate, so juniors and seniors. But we haven't heard any updates since last night or since the numbers have increased.


The Insider: Are you learning? Do you feel like you can learn under these circumstances?


Lina Berman: I don't think it's as beneficial for the long run, but it's what we have to do. I don't prefer it, because I don't. Last year, you would have a brain break in between classes when you walked to one building to the next or maybe you'd take a break and study somewhere else. But you got to move locations.


The Insider: Yes.


Lina Berman: But this is where I Zoom from, This is where my desk is, I stay here all day. But I am someone who needs to move around a lot.


The Insider: Do you get some exercise?


Lina Berman: Yeah, I have been like working out five days a week in my room or in the main area or my friends and I will take longer walks.


The Insider: So you have adjusted to it, you have too, you have too.


Lina Berman: Yes it's better this semester than it was, I think. spring semester.


The Insider: Because it was newer then and then stranger.


Lina Berman: And that's also why I came up to school, because I think at least I'm trying to be more in the school mindset, whereas at home, I'm home with my mom and my dad and my dog. So there are more distractions. Even though I'm with a bunch of girls, they're also in classes and they also want to focus at some point. So we're more at the mindset ,we have to do schoolwork. But also my mom's like, "Do you want to come home now?" I'm like, "No, I'm going to come home in a week," because I would rather try to focus as long as possible before I just enjoy a little bit of a break.


The Insider: I'm really impressed. I wouldn't have been able to do that. I wouldn't have been able to study. I would have used it as an excuse to just, "I can't do anything."


Lina Berman: Right, I know. I mean I haven't really heard of many people taking off this semester, but I know that some people probably have just because it is really difficult to learn this way.


The Insider: How are you handling Thanksgiving?


Lina Berman: If I hadn't gotten COVID ,I probably would have gotten tested a few days before and just stayed not isolated, but I guess under a self-type of quarantine.


But because I had it technically… I mean we've done a lot of research, all my friends and I and our families who have had it just to make sure we're okay, but technically we're not able to give or receive it while we have the antibodies. So my mom feels pretty safe with me coming home and I had just gotten antibody tested I think two to three weeks ago. I could get it again before I come back to school because that would be about the window of when they’re supposed to expire, but they can last longer.


The Insider: Is the school telling people not to go home by any chance? Aren't some schools doing that?


Lina Berman: Our school is saying that before you go home you should get tested and they have testing at the stadium and there's also it's called "Sparrow Hospital," but they have a testing site where there used to be I believe like a car shop or something. There's one there and there's one at the stadium. They're saying get tested before you go home so you don't accidentally spread it to your family.. They're not saying, don't go home, but they're saying ,be cautious before you go home.


The Insider: Do they tell you to get tested before you come back to campus?


Lina Berman: Yes, but they said that if you had gotten a positive test result within the last three months don't get tested.


The Insider: But they want everybody else to have a test before they come back to campus or they're not saying that?


Lina Berman: Yes, I mean they haven't reviewed that, but I'm almost positive that's what's it's going to be. Our sorority house is also going to ask for a test result when we come back.



Ana Claire Piacentini

Brown University/Providence, Rhode Island

English and International and Public Affairs

Sophomore

Age: 19


The Insider: Why don't you fill me in on what the COVID situation is on the campus?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Brown has been doing a really great job, especially with COVID. So, we get tested, We have to get tested every four days, and it's in one of our athletic facilities where we go. And we have the daily symptom tracker where we have to track whether or not we've been in contact with someone who contracted COVID., whether we have any symptoms that kind of disregard allergies, so it's based on kind of how you know yourself and your body..


Then, after we get tested, we'll get our results within at least 24 hours. The, results have been coming back really quickly, which is good. And then, each week, they update a Covid website where we can see the rates of asymptomatic students who test positive. And for the most part, the rate has been very, very low.


But starting last week, I believe we had 17 cases, which was an all-time high. And then, this past week, we have had 26 cases, so far, from asymptomatic students. So, I think right now, the health on the campus is slowly going down, but all semester, it's been really healthy, which has been great.


The Insider: Do you know anyone who's gotten sick?


Ana Claire Piacentini: I've heard of some people, but for the most part, no, I've been very fortunate to not have been in contact with people.


The Insider: It sounds like your school is being very careful.


Ana Claire Piacentini: Yes. President Paxson has, honestly, done a great job, and her Healthy Team at Brown, they've been excellent.


The Insider: Tell me what it's like to go to the mass testing situation.


Ana Claire Piacentini: It's honestly not that bad. We have to schedule a time and we go within the time frame, and everyone who works there is super nice. During quiet period, it was the highlight of my day, because it was really the only human interaction I had. So they're super friendly, and you go, and you don't have to do the super crazy one where you stick it all the way up to your brain. It's just the little one where you go kind of in both nostrils, three times around. And it's super organized, very clean, extremely spaced-out, and everyone there is super friendly, which is nice.


The Insider: And what other precautions are you asked to do by the school?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Wear a mask everywhere, not in your dorm room but in the hall, in the bathroom, and every time you go out, When you do homework, you really kind of should stay in your room. but you can go to certain lounges and do your work. But for the most part, I think students stay in their dorm rooms and do their homework and do classes. So it's been nice. And also, people have gone outside.


Some people wear a mask and others don't. It's kind of all to the discretion of the individual, which is to be expected, I guess, because we're adults now. But for the most part, here, everyone on campus is very considerate about COVID, and COVID-conscious.


The Insider: I guess there are no libraries open, right?


Ana Claire Piacentini: There are, but you schedule a time to go. I haven't been to one, just because I don't mind doing homework in my room. But I know some of my friends have, and they say it's fine, just certain floors are open, and certain aren't.


The Insider: And everything is very spaced, right?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Yes, and you get a two-hour time block, I believe.


The Insider: What about the eating situation in the dorms?


Ana Claire Piacentini: We have this mobile app called GetMobile, and we'll place our online order, and then, you'll go to the dining hall and pick it up. It's very spaced out, really, it's very efficient. You get a confirmation e-mail that your order has been received, and then you get a confirmation e-mail when your order is ready to be picked up. It's fantastic.


The Insider: That's really very efficient.


Ana Claire Piacentini: Yes. And then, we have two dining halls where you can go in and just grab-and-go, but I haven't been to them just because they're not my favorite. So, I do the GetMobile app pretty much every day, twice a day.


The Insider: And has this been going on all semester since you got back to school?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Yes. So, during quiet period, we couldn't use the mobile app; we could only go into one specific dining hall for two weeks. And, I mean, that was a little rough.


The Insider: What do you mean by quiet?


Ana Claire Piacentini: So, quiet period is where we came back to school and we had to isolate for two weeks.


It was definitely difficult, but what was nice is I live with, like, three of my friends, we got to choose who we live with So, we would hang out in one person's dorm room, like, stay in your pod, which was good. And we all tested negative multiple times before we saw each other.


The Insider: Tell me about what a pod is.


Ana Claire Piacentini: So, a pod is a group of people that you choose to spend your time with and choose to hang out with. So, on Brown, you're supposed to stick with your pod. So, my pod is the people I live with, so it's the people who are my neighbors, and it's been really fun. There's four of us in total, and I think our pod can only be up to six people, but I'm not definitive on the number.


The Insider: Is that in a dorm or in an apartment?


Ana Claire Piacentini: In a dorm room.


The Insider: Do most undergraduates lives in dorms at Brown?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Freshman and sophomore year, you have to live in a dorm room.


The Insider: So you admire the administration.


Ana Claire Piacentini: They've really done a good job.


The Insider: How do your friends feel? Same way, would you say?


Ana Claire Piacentini: The same way, yes. If you look at the health of our campus, it's been very healthy, for the entirety of the semester, and I think it's because they've taken so many precautions with the testing. If you don't get tested once every four days, they send you multiple e-mails;. They'll eventually call you, I believe. And it's a violation of the code of conduct, which has been clearly outlined, so you know whether you're breaking rules or not.


The Insider: So you could be thrown out of the school for not complying with it?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Potentially, but I haven't heard of any of those cases. I've heard of some cases where students are potentially on probation, but for the most part, I don't think anyone's been kicked out of school yet.


The Insider: That's good. Why do you think people are so compliant on campus?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Because I think everyone knows it's a privilege to be here, so, people are doing, I guess, the most they can to be able to stay on campus and assure that everyone's healthy.


The Insider: Now, what does the future look like, and what are they doing, now, because the rates are going up?


Ana Claire Piacentini: So, we're going home [for the rest of the semester]. I'm going home on Friday of this week, for Thanksgiving, but as of now, sophomores are allowed back on campus in the spring. Their original Covid plan was to break, like, the year up into trimesters. So, seniors, juniors, and sophomores are on campus, concurrently. And then, in the spring, it was supposed to be freshmen, juniors, and seniors. And then, in the summer, it was supposed to be sophomores and freshmen. But as of now, that's not happening, and sophomores are back on campus, as well. So, that's what we've heard. We register for classes tomorrow, and as of now, we're coming back, but I'm not sure if that's going to happen.


The Insider: What are they doing about Thanksgiving? How is that working?


Ana Claire Piacentini: We have to get a negative Covid test before we go home, and then, they kind of just set us free. What we do is we have to return our key and put in the range of dates that we're leaving. So we'll submit our key, get our last Covid test, and hopefully test negative, and then we can go home. And if you test positive, you have to isolate.


The Insider: It sounds like a model program, but –


Ana Claire Piacentini: It really is.


The Insider: But it's disturbing, of course, that it's starting to go up a little bit, even despite all of the precautions.


Ana Claire Piacentini: I think just the health of the state of Rhode Island hasn't been doing so great, and just because I think the exposure of people coming on College Hill. That's what we call Brown's campus, where it's situated in the city.


The Insider: Are Brown's rates lower than the regular population,?


Ana Claire Piacentini: I'm not 100 percent sure, but I would think so, just because our asymptomatic testing. I think we test about 2,000 people – these numbers I'm pulling out of thin air, so I'm not 100 percent sure, but we got – 27 people were asymptomatic and tested positive.


The Insider: Are you worried, personally, at this point?


Ana Claire Piacentini: I wouldn't say I'm worried, I'm just definitely taking more precautions than I had. I've been very cautious for the entirety of the semester, but now I'm trying not to leave my room, for the most part.


And, like, I'll go outside and do work if it's nice, but I'm not going to leave my room if it's unnecessary. I'll run and I'll go get food, and that's pretty much the only exception for me to leave my room.


The Insider: So, your lifestyle now is studying.


Ana Claire Piacentini: Yes, it is. Honestly, school has been very difficult this semester. The workload's been very tough.. I think that's across the board for every student here. But I think, the combination of having to do Zoom classes online, plus, the amount of work, kind of feels like you're sitting staring at a screen all day. Going and walking to class and seeing your friends in class,was kind of a break. And plus, too, it's always very nice to see the professors in-person, because you kind of develop nice relationships with them. So that's kind of been a bit difficult, this semester.


The Insider: You have no in-person classes at all.


Ana Claire Piacentini: I have one. So, it was an option to go in-person, and I've been going, but as of now, I don't think I'm going to go, this week.


The Insider: Which class was it?


Ana Claire Piacentini: Social statistics.


The Insider: And how often did you meet?


Ana Claire Piacentini: We met twice a week, but I could only go one day a week, because he divided up the students who wanted to go, just to alleviate the numbers in the classroom.


The Insider: Describe what the physical situation was:--very socially distanced and all of that?


Ana Claire Piacentini: It was extremely socially distanced. There were maybe seven kids in the class, and it was a huge classroom. And the professor sat behind a plexiglass screen and taught us. And everyone wore a mask, so.


The Insider: They couldn't be any more careful. Would I be right in thinking, though, it's sort of – it's almost as though you can't do everything, because it gets a little worse anyway, even with the school being this careful, there was still a little tick up. Would that be the right conclusion?


Ana Claire Piacentini: I think so. I think everyone here has been making the most of this semester. I know I certainly have, honestly – it's been really, really fun. And we've been fortunate enough to be able to have practices, and I think it's all about how you look at the situation. If you go in with a glass-half-full attitude, then you can make the best of it. I mean, it's definitely been different, but I wouldn't say different's a bad thing, in this case.


The Insider: No, I mean something different. I mean health-wise, that the school is faced with a situation where, no matter how careful you are, there's a chance of an uptick.


Ana Claire Piacentini: I think so, just because of the people coming in and out, and it's a college campus.


My little brother goes to Lawrenceville, where they can kind of control the flow in and out of the campus, also, too, because it's pretty isolated. Whereas, we're in a city, so, that's always a little difficult. But honestly, the cases have just started rising, and it hasn't even risen too, too much. So I would say it's been – the health on the campus has been really, really good, so far, just with all the testing, they'll catch it in, like, a blink of an eye.


I think it's all contingent on your pod, how well you enjoy the situation. And I think I really lucked out with my pod and being able to make the most of the situation.



Linda Kennedy

Henry Ford College/Dearborn, Michigan

Culinary Arts

Age: 70


The Insider: Your program just began in January. How do you like it so far?


Linda Kennedy: I love school. I'm a lifelong learner.


The Insider: Have you been at other colleges before?


Linda Kennedy: I have a B.A. from Oakland University. I went to UCLA for teacher certification. then I came back to Michigan and got a masters in teaching, reading, and language arts at Oakland University.. I taught at a community college.


The Insider: Great! This program sounds very practical. The world needs more chefs so that's good. Are you a good cook now?


Linda Kennedy: Yes, yes. Everybody says I'm a good cook.


The Insider: So you're perfecting your skills. Tell me about what the school is doing about COVID to make sure that students don't get it.


Linda Kennedy: There’s only one way to enter the campus and one way to get off the campus. When you enter the campus, you have a sign a document stating that you haven't been exposed to COVID or anyone with it, and you don't have any of the symptoms.


You also have to state where you're going on campus. You have to give your name, your email address, and your telephone number. Once you've done all of that, they take your temperature. If you don't have a temperature, you're free to go to class.


You have to wear a mask at all times. They have stations on campus for sanitizing your hands and keeping them clean. In the kitchen, we constantly have to wash our hands and keep them clean. We have gloves that we can use in the kitchen. Every time we change doing a certain task, we have to take those gloves off , wash our hands and put on new gloves.


The Insider: So, everybody's very careful?


Linda Kennedy: Very careful in the kitchen. That is , to my knowledge, one of the few in-person classes that are on campus. But our Governor just shut us down. In fact, I was supposed to go to school on Monday but someone in our class had COVID.


The Insider: Oh, no!


Linda Kennedy: Yes. Well, they can't tell us who it is because of the HIPPA law. I thought someone was going to call us and tell us — the Health Department or something like that — but that didn't happen. The chef, they gave him a rapid test and he tested positive for COVID, but 50 percent of the rapid tests give false positives. So he went and got a regular test. When he got his regular test, it was negative.


The Insider: Are you quarantining now?


Linda Kennedy: Well no. I had to take Merrill's mother {a woman whom she is an aide for] to the doctor. I asked the doctor and I explained my situation to her. She told me "get tested. You should go get tested yourself,” so I did. From the time that we were informed that someone in the classroom had COVID, it had already been seven days.


Still, I didn't feel comfortable because I'm here with Merrill's mother and Merrill and both of them have pre-existing conditions and I myself have pre-existing conditions and I'm black, and I'm overweight.


The Insider: Oh, boy. A lot of signs you gotta be careful right?


Linda Kennedy: Right, right.


The Insider: Would it be too nosy for me to ask what your preexisting condition is?


Linda Kennedy: ! I've had thyroid cancer. They removed my thyroid. And I'm obese.. I'm, overweight.


The Insider: I have a preexisting condition too. So, you''ve got to be so careful.


Linda Kennedy: Yes and I have high blood pressure, too.


The Insider: Oh, you've go to be really careful. So, what's happened to your class now?


Linda Kennedy: Well when they found out that the person had been exposed and had COVID, they shut our class down for two weeks so everybody had to stay at home and quarantine.


The Insider: Oh, boy.


Linda Kennedy: Then, we were supposed to go back on Monday but on Sunday, the Governor — because the conditions here in Michigan are so horrible, and the hospital beds are filling up so fast and everything and they're afraid that they won't have any space. The Governor shut down bars, restaurants, colleges, high schools… she shut it down again. She shut it down for three weeks.


The Insider: Oh, boy. How do you feel about all of this?


Linda Kennedy: You know what? I feel like the president . . . well —


The Insider: No, you can say it! I don't like the president either. Don't worry about it.


Linda Kennedy: Okay, good. Okay.


The Insider: I hate him as a matter of fact.


Linda Kennedy: Well, to be totally honest, I wrote to my friends on Facebook. I'll be glad when they get that trash out the White House.


The Insider: Absolutely.


Linda Kennedy: We really need to go there and disinfect it with some bleach and some Lysol since he loves Lysol so much.


The Insider: Ahh! That's very funny.. I know,. I agree with you 100 percent.


Linda Kennedy: He has people believing that there is no COVID, that this is a farce. People are dying. You know, I told a friend that I think that once he gets out of office, they should charge him as a war criminal because he said he was fighting a war on — that we were at war with COVID. He's done a piss-poor job. He hasn't lived up to the common decency of a human being. He has not done that. They need to try him just like they tried the Nazi war criminals and put him under the jailhouse. Him and his whole family.


The Insider: Yes. I agree with you. It's a terrible situation and he's caused it, I believe.


Linda Kennedy: Yes,. he knew about it and wouldn't say anything. And right now he's sitting in the White House pouting. He should have said, "Okay, Joe, Mr. Biden, President-elect Biden, you won. I concede."


No, he's all about the money, honey. He's got the $412 million debt coming due and he's trying to make all the money he can so he can pay that debt. I like to know who he owes.


The Insider: Yep!. You really follow politics don't you? I agree with you completely. He's a total jerk.


Linda Kennedy: His own mother called him an idiot. Really, someone sent me the thing. His mother was standing next to him and she said, "My son is an idiot. I just hope he doesn't go into politics."


The Insider: Oh, no!


Linda Kennedy: Yep. That was a quote by his mother and I got already make a T-shirt out of it.


The Insider: We're going to get rid of him pretty soon, I hope. He's on his way out at least. Thank goodness for elections. Did you have to wait in line a long time at the election?


Linda Kennedy: No, I did an absentee ballot. I got a ballot in the mail. I took it back to my clerk's office because I didn't want the mailman having anything to do with it. If my bills are coming late, what would happen to my ballot?


The Insider: Right. Right.


Linda Kennedy: They showed all that mail sitting on the docks in Detroit and all the different post offices across the country.. I said "Oh, no." I think they should get the Postmaster General and put him in jail, too.


The Insider: Oh, he's a crook, too. (Laughter.)


Linda Kennedy: Yes. Birds of a feather flock together.


The Insider: I know. Mr. DeJoy, I know. I totally agree with you. What is the name of the cooking class that you're taking this semester?


Linda Kennedy: I'm taking Hospitality 340.


The Insider: Have you known other people outside school who've had COVID?


Linda Kennedy: There was an elderly gentleman. I don't know if you know about Royal Oak Township


The Insider: I grew up in Detroit so I do.


Linda Kennedy: You do, okay. Well, back in the day, that was a village at the height of its existence there was 45,500 black people out there. We had everything that we needed from grocery stores, doctors, judge,s lawyers, teachers, shoe repairmen, cleaners, everything out there. It was a village, you know? Most of the people like my mother and father are gone, but we'd have some 95-year olds and things like that who've been hanging on. One of our elders just passed last month. He was 95 and he died of COVID.


The Insider: That's too bad. Do you talk to other students or are you more distant because you're working full-time?


Linda Kennedy: No. The other students, they come to me for assistance because they say I'm the smartest one in the classroom.


The Insider: I believe it.


Linda Kennedy: (Laughs). When I was five years old, my mother pushed me up to the sink, put me in the chair, and I was washing dishes. I always helped her in the kitchen. My mother had 15 children but there's only 10 that lived. So, my mother baked like three times a day because that helped cut down on the food costs. She made bread. She did cakes and pies and stuff. I was always fascinated by, "How does she make the stuff work?" So, I always helped her in the kitchen.


The Insider: So, do you hear from the other students how they feel about COVID? None of them are sick now, right?


Linda Kennedy: No, none of my classmates have been sick. There's another lady in the class, she's about 65. The rest of them are younger, like in their 30s and 40s. Some of them are younger than that, 18, 20, 22, 23. Some of them didn't come back. I don't know if it was due to COVID. They are fearful and the biggest thing is we've been talking about whether or not we would take the vaccination. The vaccine? Nuh-uh.


The Insider: You wouldn't take it?


Linda Kennedy: No! Because the way they want to do it is older people in the nursing homes, the people — first responders, right?


Then, the black people because we're the higher risk. But that's because they don't believe us when we tell them we're sick. They don't believe us, even the AMA. I read about a study they did. They asked the doctors if they believed their patients — their black patients — when they told them they were in pain. 95 percent of the doctors said they did not believe their black patients.


The Insider: Oh my God. That is terrible.


Linda Kennedy: And, I had an experience when I went through the hot flash stage. I kept telling the doctor, "There's something wrong with me. I'm short-tempered, I'm easily agitated. I don't want to yell at my kids and I'm yelling at my kids and I'm crying and stuff." "Oh, there's nothing wrong with you. You're too young. Don't worry about it." I kept telling this doctor for at least two years.


The Insider: Oh, no.


Linda Kennedy:: Yes and I'm teaching right? One day I went to the doctor and I had had one of these horrible days. You know, everything got on my nerves. He came in and, there was a metal table. He's just banging his pen on that table, you know? Banging it, banging it. I said, "If you bang that pen one more time, I'm gonna kill you." He said, "I think we need to test your hormones."


The Insider: Ah, right.


Linda Kennedy:: I said, "Alrighty now." I had to say I was gonna kill you before — I've been asking you for two years. He tested my hormones and they were at 14.


The Insider: Oh no. What a jerk he was.


Linda: Kennedy: And my kids had suffered horribly. You know? I felt like such an unfit mother.. I was screaming and yelling.


The Insider: He was an unfit doctor. That's the problem. Let me ask you another question. Do you actually go into school now or are you learning remotely?


Linda Kennedy: Before the shutdown, we were going into school. We were fixing and prepping things on campus. They have a restaurant and we would prep things for the meals on Wednesday nights. We would do our setup. We'd do all the cutting, chopping, dicing. Then, on Wednesday when we come in, we would get ready for orders. They were only doing takeout orders, no dine-in. We would fix the meals as they were ordered .


The Insider: This was during the pandemic you're talking about?

Linda Kennedy: Yes. During the pandemic. We provided curbside service but they had to come in off the curb in order to pick it up because, you know, the way the campus is set up. There are great big parking lots between each building and there's student parking, staff parking, handicapped parking, and all of that. So there's really no way they could get curbside service. They have to order their food, then we would prepare it, then they would receive — they would come to the door. It ended two weeks ago when we found out that someone had COVID.


Now that they shut us down, all our assignments, all our tests, the videos of the chef doing certain techniques and things like that, that's online. Also, the textbook has videos and things about how to build a recipe and things like that. That's all online. So, the chef just text me yesterday and said "We're going to be doing some Zoom meetings online since we're going to be out for another three weeks." He's going to do some more lectures online so we can stay abreast of things.


The Insider: What do you think about the online lessons? Are you learning or do you hate it?


Linda Kennedy: Well, my problem is, you know most of these kids — excuse me. I shouldn't call them kids.


The Insider: You can call them kids.


Linda Kennedy: You know, most of my follow students, they have t iPhones or tablets. They can do everything on that. I have a phone that cost $16. I can receive texts, I can send texts, I can go online. But when I want to send an email, like this past week we had an assignment where we had to make eight entrees and we had the write the recipes for these entrees. We also had to take a picture of each entree. That means we actually had to prepare them, take a picture of them, send the recipes and the pictures for the entrees.


Well, the only way my little phone could do it, I had to send the recipe by itself. Then I had to open another email to send the picture and so on and so forth.


The Insider: That's rough.


Linda Kennedy: Yes. Monday morning the chef sent me an email. He says, "Thanks for the 20 emails." Then he said, "LOL - you are amazing."


The Insider: Oh, that's great. He appreciates how hard you're working.


Linda Kennedy: So that was that.



Daisy Diaz

Wayne State University/Detroit, Michigan

Social Work

Senior

Age: 22



The Insider: Are you doing clinical work yet for your social work degree?


Daisy Diaz: Yes. For my whole senior year, I will do 16 hours a week. My agency is called Naomi’s Nest. It’s in Highland Park, Michigan. And it’s a rehab facility for women, an in-patient program. So if they’re addicted to any substance they’re able to recuperate while still living in that facility.


The Insider: That’s really great. What made you go into social work?


Daisy Diaz: It’s so clichéd but I want to help people. I wanted to be a nurse before a social worker, but I wanted to work with people not because they were injured or they were sick, I wanted to work with them on more on a policy change type of thing. If they were struggling to find housing for food stamps or anything like that.


The Insider: That’s smart, you don’t have to meet somebody on a stretcher. It's true.


Daisy Diaz: Yes.


The Insider: I know that in Michigan there’s been an uptick in COVID. Were there new rules just imposed?


Daisy Diaz: Yes, we're shutting down again tomorrow. So all restaurants, movie theaters, non-pro sports will be shut down.


The Insider: You're continuing to do Zoom classes from home?


Daisy Diaz: Yes. I haven’t been on campus since February of this year.


The Insider: Right before the pandemic?


Daisy Diaz: Yes.


The Insider: Wow,! Really?


Daisy Diaz: Yes.


The Insider: So you haven’t had any in-person classes?


Daisy Diaz: No, because our spring break was the last week of February. And then they gave us an extra week of spring break because of COVID. And then after that, they were like, we're going to just do online school now.


The Insider: How has that been?


Daisy Diaz: It’s been tough since it is my senior year. I do miss being in class. It’s not the same teaching, interacting with the students. Having to talk to them every day, it is different. I know it’s been hard to keep up with all of them since they are online.


There’s a lot more reading now since our classes are online. We really have to make sure we go back and listen to the lectures just so that we can make sure that we catch up on everything. Usually, I can have written down notes like during class but now since I’m on Zoom, it’s a little bit harder because I have to make sure my connection is good,, that they can hear me when I’m saying something. So it’s a lot harder to write down answers and questions or any important information now.


The Insider: I bet, I’m sure that’s true. So there is no campus right now?


Daisy Diaz: No, there is no campus. Everything is shut down. I went to walk there during the summertime just because it was a really nice day and there were no students, no faculty. It was just so lonely.


The Insider: Wow, so you miss being there.


Daisy Diaz: Yes, and especially because it’s my senior year. I’m not going to be able to be there and I’m pretty sure I will be online as well for next semester, which is technically my last semester.


The Insider: Are you afraid of getting COVID?


Daisy Diaz: I am, I’m not a person who usually gets sick. I’ve never had the flu or anything like that. So it is scary because I’ve just never been sick to the point where I have to miss school or call off work. So it is a little bit scary, especially since there’s no real cure for it right now.


The Insider: Right. Do you know people who have had it?


Daisy Diaz: Yes, and I’ve actually known people who passed away from it as well.


The Insider: Do you really? What happened?


Daisy Diaz: He was already diabetic. My mom’s cousin Oscar. So I guess that makes him my cousin too. He passed away last month.


The Insider: How old was he?


Daisy Diaz: He was 50, no more than 50. He was diabetic, and everything just spiraled out of control once he got COVID. His diabetes started to get a little bit worse and worse. He had trouble breathing and they just decided that it was best to –


The Insider: Let him go?


Daisy Diaz: Yes, let him go. Because he was just suffering a lot at that point.


The Insider: Did he have a family?


Daisy Diaz: He did.


The Insider: Kids?


Daisy Diaz: Yes, he had four kids.


The Insider: That’s really too bad, I’m sorry.


Daisy Diaz: Yes.


The Insider: Have you had friends with COVID?


Daisy Diaz: I have not had any friends who had COVID. And I have a lot of friends so, no, thank God.


The Insider: Have you known other people who’ve had it?


Daisy Diaz: I work at Ulta. It’s a make-up and hair store. Both of my managers contracted COVID last week. So we had to bring managers in from other stores to help fill in. And since it is holiday season, it's been very, very crazy. And we've just been taking major precautions. Especially since we do deal with a lot of customers.


The Insider: Did you have to quarantine after they came down with it?


Daisy Diaz: I did not because I actually was not on the same shift that they were on that week. So I didn’t have to.


The Insider: Lucky, very lucky. So that’s really stinks that your last year that you have to be going through this. That’s really not fair. Have you had a COVID test?


Daisy Diaz: I have.


The Insider: Why?


Daisy Diaz: Before my internship started in September, I was required to get a COVID test. So I did a rapid COVID test but so I had to pay $100 to get itI had to wait outside in the long line. And I literally got the COVID test standing outside. I wasn’t even allowed to go in or anything like that. They just asked me if I had any symptoms, I had to fill out paperwork. II was really weird because I never had a test done outside. It on a busy road. It was just really weird. It was very painful, I will say.


The Insider: Was it in your nose?


Daisy Diaz: Yes, it was in my nose. And she told me if I moved, she would have to do it on my other nostril as well. So I had to make sure that when she did it on the first nostril I had to stay really, really still so she wouldn’t do it on the other one. It feels like you have water in your nose and it has that burning sensation. And I felt it for three hours later. I could still feel it.


The Insider: Wow. Obviously it came out negative, though.


Daisy Diaz: Yes, it was negative.


The Insider: That was good news.


Daisy Diaz: But it felt very, very uncomfortable.


The Insider: How long did you have to wait for the results?


Daisy Diaz: It was a rapid test, so it was only about 20 minutes.


The Insider: And how accurate did they tell you it was?


Daisy Diaz: They didn’t really say how accurate it was. But after tha,t I didn’t have any symptoms or I wasn’t sick.


The Insider: How do you think that Wayne State’s administration has handled this? Have they done well about communicating with you? Or has it been bad?


Daisy Diaz: So every time there’s an update from the Governor, they send out an e-mail to their students reiterating what the Governor said and what that means for Wayne State. So they’ve been doing a really, really good job..


I know I had to go on campus one day because I had to fill out some paperwork for FAFSA, financial aid..I had to fill out an application out there. So they had me do a screening test on my phone, answering questions like had I come in contact with anyone in the last 14 days with COVID.? Had I traveled, anything like that?. And I had to show that I finished that screening before I even entered any building. So they’ve been doing a pretty good job.


The Insider: Careful, yes, it sounds like it. What is the COVID rate at Wayne? Has it gone up or is it lower?


Daisy Diaz: It’s pretty low just because there is no contact with anyone. Everything is basically curbside.


Also, what Wayne State did at the beginning of the year, since we couldn’t have any homecomings or anything like that, they passed out a goodie bag with a face mask, hand sanitizer, to all their students. So you just had to drive in your car and they would put it in your backseat. So I mean they’ve been doing a pretty good job in my opinion. Especially because they’re in downtown where like all the bars are, all the restaurants, so they’ve been doing a pretty good job of keeping everything closed and clean and safe.



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