British Columbia·Point of View

Empty streets, silent hallways: A day in the life of a Grade 12 student returning to school during COVID-19

The class of 2020 is walking into adulthood with a lot of uncertainty and we don’t know what the future holds. But I do know we will get through this.

It’s my grad year! But it’s also the year of a worldwide pandemic.

Tina Yong is a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey, B.C. (Tina Yong)

Tina Yong is a Grade 12 student at Fleetwood Park Secondary School in Surrey, B.C. She shares what it's like to return to the classroom after weeks of home learning. The following is an edited version of Yong's narration on her video diary.

Hi everybody,

It's my grad year!

But it's also the year of a worldwide pandemic.

And while my final moments of my high school years may be memory-making, they are not exactly how I dreamed these last days would be.

I decided to take my camera on my first day back to Fleetwood Park Secondary School after weeks of home learning and show you what life is like right now for students living through some pretty uncertain times. 

The eerie walk

This was a strange experience.

Usually there is a crowd of students walking through my Surrey neighbourhood on their way to class, but today ... it's just me on the street.

But I really want to go to the school and experience it one last time. I feel like I need the chance to just say goodbye and move on with my life.

The quiet classroom

The hallways and classrooms were like the streets — empty and eerie because they are usually swarming with students. Instead, I was greeted with signs to keep my distance and hand sanitizer stations everywhere.

But physical distancing wasn't too hard because no one was there today but me. And my favourite teacher Ms. Stewart!

After class, I had to leave the building immediately. It was strange to see no one but my teacher. Still, nice to see a fresh face other than my parents or my cat.

A day in the life of a Grade 12 student during the COVID-19 pandemic

CBC News BC

11 months ago
4:33
B.C. student Tina Yong says high school no longer looks the same, but it was important to say goodbye to that chapter of her life. 4:33

Post-class routine

My total time at school today was only an hour, so afterwards I have my art class by distance at home.

After art, and a bit of homework, I put in some time on the phone for my organization, Qaranteens B.C., which connects seniors with young people through letters to fight loneliness during the pandemic.

And when that's wrapped, it's time to play a little badminton with Mom!

Prom woes

I've looked forward to going to prom for a long time. I always thought of it as a way to find closure and say goodbye to this chapter of my life and it's disappointing to miss out on that.

So I put on my dress anyway because showing you gives me a small sense of that closure.

Thanks for coming to my ad-hoc prom everyone!

What's next?

Next year, I will be at the University of British Columbia. Sort of.

Classes will be online and I am worried because I learn better surrounded by my peers.

Even now, seeing my friends on video chat makes me long for when I can see them in person and not as little boxes on my computer.

So not only am I missing out on the traditional end of high school celebrations, I also will be missing out on another major teenage milestone — my first freshman day on campus.

But I am not alone.

The class of 2020 is walking into adulthood with a lot of uncertainty and we don't know what the future holds. But I do know we will get through this.

Congratulations to all high school graduates. Here is hoping we can celebrate with each other someday soon.

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