Over Spring Break, Students Find Ways to Socialize Remotely During the COVID-19 Outbreak

Mar 26, 2020

7th grader Sebastián Cortez Rodríguez (top left), 12th grader Kate Vu (top right), 4th grader May Gold (bottom left), 12th grader Sequoia Wiseman (bottom right).

For many students across the country, this week was their last vacation before the end of the school year. While some kids still traveled over Spring Break, some in Eugene shared how they have managed to socialize remotely during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Under Governor Kate Brown’s order, people should only leave their house for essential trips so we can stop the spread of coronavirus. But K-12 students have not let that impede on their social lives.

May Gold is a 4th grader at Camas Ridge Elementary School. She has been using walkie-talkies to chat with her best friend from across the street and play games.

4th grader May Gold sits outside her house with her younger sister, and talks to her friend on her walkie-talkie.
Credit Anni Katz / KLCC News

“So we just kind of have a dice and I do like a Harry Potter role play and just sort of like tell them what’s happening and then give them a choice,” said Gold. “So yeah, kind of like choose your own adventure.”

Sebastián Cortez Rodríguez is a 7th grader at Kelly Middle School. He planned to hang out with his family and friends at the park or the mall. Now, Rodríguez has been using Xbox Live to stay connected. But like many of us, he’s having a hard time being cooped-up at home.

“The hardest part is mainly just not being able to like see your friends in person and it gets kind of boring doing the same things every day after a little bit,” said Rodríguez.

South Eugene High School senior Kate Vu also misses doing things with people outside the confines of her house.

“There's such a disconnect after you have just not left your house for like a week,” said Vu. “So it's really nice to actually have some kind of human contact that's other than my family.”

Vu planned to drive to the coast or go camping for Spring Break. Since the stay-home order, Vu has started using the TwoSeven Chrome Extension so she can watch movies remotely with her friends.

12th grader Kate Vu uses the gaming app Discord, as well as the TwoSeven Chrome Extension.
Credit Kate Vu

“Basically all you need to do is you go on the website,” said Vu. “You make an account, you install the extension, and then it syncs up videos across like five or six different people watching at the same time. Then someone puts in any video on the internet, and then it plays it at the same time so that we can all watch it, like quote-on-quote together, while being on voice call or whatever.”

Sequoia Wiseman is a senior at North Eugene High School and captain of the school’s dance team. The group was supposed to go to Portland for the state championships last weekend, but they were canceled in order to prevent the spread.

“This year was kind of our golden year,” said Wiseman. “North Eugene has always been the underdogs. And we at local competitions this state season, we broke our school record four times.”

Wiseman said the team was on their way to winning first or second place at state. But even though the high schoolers can’t compete, the state dance choreographer found a way to still keep up the team spirit.

12th grader Sequoia Wiseman sits at her desk and hugs her dog Otis.
Credit Sequoia Wiseman

“We called it the quarantine game,” said Wiseman. “He posted on our private Facebook page and he posted the rules and then posted a list of all of our names. We would comment a video underneath the post of us doing all the dance moves before us. And then when the string would get to us, we would add on another move and tag the next person in the list.”

Despite the students’ original Spring Break plans being cancelled, they all seem happy they’re staying at home and flattening the curve.

Starting with Gold, they also explained why it’s important to stay at home. 

“Because there could be like COVID-19 anywhere,” said Gold. “And you also just like—you know that your house is like probably a safe place. And if you like go out into the world, you don’t know if somebody has COVID-19.”

7th grader Sebastián Cortez Rodríguez uses Xbox Live, FaceTime, and Snapchat to connect with his friends.
Credit Imelda Cortez

Rodríguez said the amount of time the virus can stay in your body before showing symptoms,  is why he stays at home.

“If you go out during like these times you could be getting the virus and the thing is that you could have it for up to two weeks and not show symptoms,” said Rodríguez. “So you'll be spreading it to people without even knowing that you are. And then those people will spread it to more people and it just starts to spread more.”

Similarly, Vu said it’s not just about protecting yourself—it is about protecting others as well.

“There are so many things that I feel like people are really brushing off,” said Vu. “The thing that I see all the time is, ‘Oh, people are just overreacting. I don't care if I die, I'm not going to die if I get it anyway. It's just old people. You know—40% of humans show symptoms, 80% aren't severe.’ And I'm like, well, even if it's just 3% of people dying—even if it’s just that small—there's 300 million people in the United States. There’s a lot of people.”

In order to stop the spread of COVID-19, local officials have asked people to wash their hands regularly, cover their coughs, and “please stay home,” said Vu. “Don’t go anywhere unless you have to get food or get medicine or something.”