Southern California Students Share Their Perspectives on COVID-19 and School Closures

When schools across California transitioned to distance learning, Student Reporting Labs participants grabbed their phones to share their day-to-day experiences in this new normal.

Learn more about PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs here.


Find more youth perspectives on COVID-19: SoCal Connected Report on College-Bound Seniors | Mayor Garcetti’s Check-In with Young Angelenos

When schools across California transitioned to distance learning, Student Reporting Labs participants grabbed their phones to share their day-to-day experiences in this new normal. There are countless stories in the news about how teenagers are processing their feelings during this time: the challenges of having the technology access and support to complete assignments; the cancellation of “American teenager” milestones, like prom and graduation; and, let us not forget the Tik Tok challenges. But, what better way to hear about the impact of this crisis on young people than by going to the source.

The students we heard from have varying experiences and ways of adjusting to life under the current pandemic. Some are creating new routines and finding virtual ways to connect, while others are managing the worries and stresses that come from uncertainty about their own futures or the safety of family members who are essential workers. Watch a selection of their stories below:

Adjusting to a New Normal

Kat G.
Canyon High School, Santa Clarita

Kat came down with an unknown sickness at the beginning of school closures. Hear how she navigates the healthcare system under a pandemic and the ways she stays connected with friends.

Patrick H.
Canyon High School, Santa Clarita

With track canceled for the rest of the school year, Patrick develops new routines to stay in-shape and positive during this time.

Isabelle M.
Canyon High School, Santa Clarita

Isabelle misses her classes and finds it hard to stay motivated without the presence of her teachers and other classmates. But, she finds ways to connect with friends virtually and spends a lot of time hanging out with her sister.

Madi M.
West Ranch High School, Santa Clarita

This time of year is when college decisions usually come out. Madi shares why it’s been difficult to make this major life decision, virtually.

Lost and Found

Student Reporting Labs sent out an assignment to teachers and young people all over the country: What is something you’ve lost during this time? And, what is something you have found?

Zhenwei G.
Etiwanda High School, Rancho Cucamonga

Zhenwei misses social interactions but finds ways to stay busy. She’s reading, watching movies, and finding ways to still express her love of fashion.

Alyssa G.
Northview High School, Covina

Alyssa loves Volleyball, and not being able to play during this period at-home is difficult. But, while Alyssa feels she’s lost time with her teammates, she’s found new hobbies, such as drawing, and has been enjoying building a stronger bond with her little sister.

Noah O.
Laguna Blanca School, Santa Barbara

Noah shares a poetic account about the loss he feels without physical interactions but how he finds ways to self-reflect and see the beauty in the world around him.

Finding Ways to Cope

Ana Luna P.
Northview High School, Covina

Ana Luna talks about her mental health and how it has been affected as a result of the stay-at-home order. She shares how making art and spending time with her mom helps her cope with stress.

Etiwanda High School
Rancho Cucamonga

Before schools shut down, students produced this story — an inside scoop on why young people respond to moments of crisis, like coronavirus and climate change, with memes and humor.

West Ranch High School
Santa Clarita, CA

The majority of the young people we heard from wished they could see their friends from school in-person. Some students found a creative way to take virtual socializing to the next level: they created a model of their school on the video game Minecraft. This clip was originally featured in the school’s live, student-produced news broadcast, West Ranch TV.