Students experience “COVID fatigue” during Distance Learning

Graphic+by+Merit+Onyekwere

Graphic by Merit Onyekwere

Truong-Anh Nguyen-Tan

When Lodi Unified School District announced that school was cancelled at the beginning of quarantine in March, many students were relieved that their scholastic stress would be temporarily put on hold. However, the effects of being quarantined for what is rapidly becoming an entire year has taken a toll on students’ mental and emotional health.

“I’ve felt really suffocated in my own home,” senior Christy Dao said. “I was just in my room all day. My anxiety started getting the best of me.”

Dao is just one of the many students at Bear Creek who are experiencing COVID fatigue: a condition of being tremendously tired of the self-isolation, fear of the coronavirus, and quarantine limitations—which, in San Joaquin county, have recently been expanded to strict stay-at-home orders and the closure of many businesses, such as nail salons and barbers.  

“In online classes, we’re staring at a screen all day,” Dao said. “After that, we do homework and [are] by ourselves. Then, you do the same thing the next day; it’s just a rinse and repeat.”

A primary contributing factor for student COVID fatigue has been the mandated distance learning program that continues to be extended. With no end to online learning in sight, students are exhausted from excessive screen time and constant repetition—which further diminishes their productivity and academic drive.

“My worth ethic isn’t as good as it used to be in physical school,” junior Jeselle DeLeon explained. “Right now, it’s not asking people for answers, it’s more like ‘can we just work on this together to get it over with?’ We’re working for the due dates and not the actual purpose of learning.”

After a long day of attending online classes, it’s always delightful and comforting to have someone or a group to talk with to erase the frustration of COVID fatigue when exhaustion and loneliness have overwhelmed the mind and body.

 “I think I have really great support groups,” Dao said. “My friends are also very supportive to me.”

Unfortunately, for some students, that is not the case. For them, COVID-19 paranoia and self-isolation have made them become more separated from their peers. 

“Quarantine has kind of made me more isolated,” junior Lalaine DelaCruz said. “There are possible past events during quarantine that could’ve affected me that made me more to myself and scared to talk to other people.”

While some students have been violating safety guidelines, others are standing firm against COVID fatigue and obeying the self-isolation rules, even being creative with them. 

“For guidelines such as masks, I don’t have problems with them,” junior Hailey Morris said. “I make them a fashion statement… Adapting [to guidelines] was pretty easy for me and my family.” 

For a few other students, quarantine has actually reduced their stress and bolstered their relationship with their parents and family members. Nonetheless, there are many others that have accumulated more anxiety, so knowing techniques to reduce it, such as exercise, is great when irritation and COVID fatigue is building up, according to U.C. Davis’ Department of Public Health Sciences. 

“My mom and I would take a walk, go on a bike ride, or I would shoot around with my brother outside,” sophomore Hadia Hussain said. “Or I like baking, so I’ll just bake something.”

With California’s COVID cases soaring again and the state issuing another lockdown, there seems to be no end to this quarantine madness. Students and families can only hope that better things will arrive in the future, though it seems bleak. 

“There’s pros and cons of quarantine,” DeLeon said. “I hope that it will be worth it in the long run, but it’s almost a year and it doesn’t seem to be.”

Contributor: Benjamin Tran