Worldwide pandemic affects students


Submitted by Grace Byrd.

Grace Byrd hangs out near the water during church camp in the summer. She tested positive for COVID-19 soon after returning home.

Gabby Norman, Managing Editor

For two weeks, junior Kendall Kerr was confined to a room with little to no human contact and very few sources of entertainment. After contracting the coronavirus, her main source of entertainment was a piano. Kerr barely communicated with people, since the light from electronics only worsened her migraines.  

What had once seemed foreign soon proved all too real for Kerr. 

In late June, she remembers having a sore throat. Kerr decided to hold off getting tested for COVID-19, suspecting it was just allergies. After all, she had been wearing a mask and social distancing. 

“My friend’s dad had the virus and I went with her to drop food off for him,” Kerr said.  “She was wearing a mask and everything, but a few days after she saw him, she tested positive. A few days after that, I tested positive too.”

Kerr slowly deteriorated with migraines, shortness of breath and a low-grade fever. On July 1, Kerr’s father drove her an hour away to the Patients’ Emergency Room in Baytown.

“The test was a rapid test,” Kerr said. “They told me it would be about an hour or two before they would receive my results, so we decided to go out for lunch.”

The coronavirus has taken the world by storm, with over 6 million cases and more than 190,000 deaths in the U.S. alone, according to CDC.   In Texas alone, there has been over 707,000 cases. The CDC has also done studies that show while wearing a mask may not protect the wearer, it will prevent the spread of the disease, especially by asymptomatic carriers that may be unaware that they have COVID.

Twenty minutes after leaving her test, Kerr received a call that resulted in her spending the next two weeks in her room, not leaving even for the bathroom as she had one connected to her room. The test came back positive, landing Kerr among the hundreds of thousand Texans who have battled the virus since March.

“I knew it was bad when they had to talk to my dad,” Kerr said.

Grace Byrd, 10, found herself in a similar situation. After coming back from church camp where she hadn’t always socially distanced and worn a mask, Byrd contracted the virus and was confined to her room for two weeks. 

“I had shared a room with my younger sister, but she had to be confined to the playroom while I was in quarantine,” Byrd said. “My parents brought food up to me.”

Entertainment was a big aspect of keeping both girls sane. Kerr had times where she was bedridden, but when she felt well enough, she played piano and took baths. Byrd found more entertainment online and in crafting.

“There was lots of drama going on while I was in quarantine,” Byrd said. “I FaceTimed my friends, painted, watched TV and YouTube.” 

The biggest anomaly with the coronavirus is the range of seriousness. Byrd experienced some headaches and some loss of taste. A personal friend of Kerr was hospitalized and contracted pneumonia. Kerr herself was often reduced to lying in her bed, having no strength to do anything but get her food and rest. 

“I was lightheaded all the time,” Kerr said. “Looking at bright lights hurt, so I was in the dark a lot. It’s like the flu but people handle it differently. It’s very serious, I personally know somebody that was hospitalized for months with an oxygen mask.”

When it was first a big thing, I didn’t take it seriously. Then I got it and was like, ‘Oh fudge.’ Something can happen in the blink of an eye.

— Kendall Kerr, junior

Neither girl was hospitalized, but Kerr had serious concerns that she would have to be.

“I thought I was going to have to go to the ER on day nine,” Kerr said. “I felt really bad, but the next day I felt really good and thought it might have gone away. Then the next day the headaches were bad again.”

With studies for a vaccine in the works, there are also studies about the possible long-term effects of the virus. 

“I’m kind of scared, but I’ll have to deal with it if it comes to that,” Byrd said. 

Kerr and Byrd have both decided to go back to school in person. They hoped the A/B schedule would prevent an outbreak of cases. 

“This thing is serious, just because we’re teenagers doesn’t mean it’s easy to get over or we can’t get it,” Kerr said. “Don’t go touching everything. Wear a mask.

“Don’t joke around. When it was first a big thing, I didn’t take it seriously. Then I got it and was like, ‘Oh fudge.’ Something can happen in the blink of an eye.”