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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
A migrant student’s experience during COVID-19
By Marilyn Salcedo Valladares | May | June 2022
It all happened on March 17, 2020. Schools started closing and said we were coming back in two weeks. All the students looked at those two weeks like a vacation and didn’t think we weren’t coming back. Two weeks passed and we were still stuck at home. My mom called to find out why the school was closed. They said that they were going to close it due to COVID-19.
Since the pandemic started, everything for me has changed a lot. We saw the news of people getting COVID-19 and we started to get scared. When we went to the stores to get food, there were places that didn't even have a cup of food. Stores were low on groceries and supplies. People started getting scared and tried buying everything they could so they could survive. The news was always full of people dying of COVID-19 or how to survive in the pandemic. The media struck fear into our lives and everyday was a struggle.
My family didn’t want me to even go outside to breathe, so I stayed inside and got a message from my friend saying that we were going to go online due to COVID-19. I didn’t believe her, but then I realized that she was telling me the truth. I got scared and didn’t know what reaction to have because I feared what would happen. The schools started to do Zoom meetings and use Google Classroom, Google Slides, and more apps to study and do work from home. Although I was familiar with these, it was not the same having to use it for everything that needed to be turned in. It was hard to learn from our house and just staring at a screen hour after hour. COVID-19 was getting worse and more dangerous. I was constantly wondering what would happen, will this be the end, will my family and I survive COVID-19? I started panicking and started shaking and started crying all the time. I stopped eating because I thought this was the end.
I started to get skinny, and my family noticed I wasn’t eating. I tried hiding it, but it didn’t work; my parents sought help and they said that things would get better. At night, I would go to sleep at 4 a.m. on my phone trying to make no sound to not wake my parents up. Sometimes they took my phone away, but I got stressed when I tried to sleep. Insomnia would get the best of me, and it was difficult to de-stress and get some rest. When school started online, I didn’t expect to learn from a computer hour after hour, nor did I want to.
When COVID-19 started I was 11, and now I'm 13, it’s been more than two long years of the coronavirus. When we went back to school in person, it was scary because I was now in middle school and didn’t know most of the students. It was my first time having seven classes and attending a middle school. I got mixed up and didn’t know where to go. I even went to the wrong class at first. Everyone had masks on, so we were not even able to see each other's faces or whether they were friendly or not. It was scary at first, but I made friends quickly.
The thing that I like the most is that I have a friend in five classes. It’s been very cool. I thought middle school was going to be different. I thought all the teachers were going to be mean and even the principals. I was wrong. School, in-person, has been such a good experience so far.
In-person education has changed me physically as well. I tried exercising during the pandemic, but I failed because I would get so lazy. Now that I’m in school, I need to do the mile and exercise every day with no excuses. The bad thing is that P.E. is 50 minutes, the same as the other six classes. Being in school in-person has helped me reach my fitness goals. When I was in 6th grade online, I didn’t do any physical education because I got lazy and just joined the Zoom meetings for 30 minutes or less. I would fall asleep, but I still passed the year, so that was good. I got scared at the last minute and turned in all the missing assignments. It was sad not finishing the year in person for 5th and 6th grade because I had awesome teachers and wish we could have had those years in-person.
The pandemic was something new to me that I never expected, and it was hard for a lot of kids. Some stuff that the pandemic taught me is to always sanitize, try to stay healthy and to be a part of people's lives because you could get sick and maybe get COVID-19. My whole family finally got COVID-19, but not me or my sister. It was scary because we couldn’t be with our parents during that time, so we just stayed inside our room all those weeks alone. Another thing that the pandemic taught me was to stay safe because other people could not save you.
Being home was weird because I got used to going to school online, and then I was home doing nothing and watching TV. That was my schedule, but I got tired of it, so I made a gift for myself. I was going to pass 6th grade and celebrate myself. I put candies in there so when it was my graduation, I would open it and celebrate myself by finishing seven years of schooling.
As I look to the future, I really want to become an actress and be in movies, so my goal is getting all my grades up so I could maybe get better and maybe go to college to practice acting. The pandemic helped me find my career and I'm proud of that because I wasn’t sure about what I wanted to be. If I can’t be an actress, I would like to be a doctor because when I was little, I had a kindergarten teacher who passed away due to asthma. That made me want to help others with respiratory issues.
Now, I'm attending middle school and I'm happy. This school and my teachers have really helped me get my grades up and I’m learning a lot, too. If I don’t understand something, they explain it to me until I learn it. I'm finally passing all my classes; it’s been a hard couple of years, but things are getting better now.
These were some of my experiences during the pandemic and how it has forever changed me. I hope to grow and learn from this experience and use these skills to improve myself and my future.
Marilyn Salcedo Valladares is a 7th grader at Wilson Junior High School in the El Centro Elementary School District.
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