Saddleback students trying to stay sane amidst the Coronavirus chaos

Sophomore Jeff Ashley visits Monument Valley over spring break before cutting his trip short (Courtesy/Jeff Ashley)

The week before Saddleback students were set to enjoy a week off for spring break is when the coronavirus started to become a bigger threat in Orange County. The news sank in when an NBA game was cancelled abruptly due to NBA officials learning that Utah Jazz center, Rudy Gobert, was carrying symptoms parallel with the coronavirus.

Those with travel plans to fly out of the country for spring break were urged by school officials to cancel their trips out of precaution to minimize their chances of possibly contracting the virus.. Students were told to quarantine at home until they heard otherwise from state officials. 

Sophomore Jeff Ashley realized that it was in his best interest to cut his spring break trip halfway through what he had originally planned. Ashley became very eager to see all of the spots that he had booked but decided that his health outweighed every other factor and he would be able to visit those places at a later date.

“I planned a ten day road trip back through various states in November for spring break and left on March 12,” Ashley said. “I was in Salt Lake City when non-essential businesses started to close and that’s when I decided it was safe to head home to my family. Luckily I brought home four rolls of toilet paper from the hotels I stayed at because of the shortage my mom warned me about.”

Elliot Stern, president of Saddleback College, announced a soft close of the campus until at least May 1st, which would go into effect the Monday after spring break. All classes were moved to online instruction and all spring sports were cancelled indefinitely.  

Due to the uncertainty of the virus, many students had no idea how long they were being ordered to stay inside for. Per the governor of California, all citizens had to stay home to prevent the disease from spreading. California has been on lockdown since mid March with citizens only allowed to leave the house for essential items.

With school starting back up and online instruction becoming a new norm, both professors and students had to learn a whole new way of learning. Those quarantined at home picked up old hobbies again as well as trying new activities to keep busy.

“During the quarantine I have arranged and rearranged my room five times now, and have learned the life stories of my roommates, mom and dad, about three times each,” said sophomore Alex Thornton. “I predict that I’ll fully lose it in about 2 days.” 

Thornton normally takes all four of his classes online and would dedicate one or two days to get all of his homework done so that he could enjoy some fresh air and a lengthy time outside. He has now spread his workload out to keep busy during what seems like the longest weeks of his life.

Various other Saddleback students were asked what they have done to stay busy during quarantine as well as how they’ve adapted to all online instruction. Some students had to adapt to online instruction for the very first time due to typically having class in person on campus.

Freshman Aiden Finch took up his free time to work on some around the house projects that he has put off for some months. Finch recently built a wooden desk with materials in his garage for his bedroom while quarantined, while also dedicating time to get closer to his good friends from a distance. 

“You know this quarantine stuff ain’t too bad. I’ve had time to reflect on myself and really build my relationship with the boys, even while being 6 feet apart,” Finch said.

On the other hand, sophomore Tanner Henderson has used his time so far to get some much needed down time where he is doing both work and school from home. After going non-stop since the semester started, Henderson has enjoyed the transition so far. 

“In the morning I put on my day pajamas and then when I’m ready to turn in for the day I put on my night pajamas,” said Henderson. “I am still productive with both work and school work and really enjoying doing things at my own pace and on my own time.”

The coronavirus has messed up several things across campus and has hurt a lot of people in the process. It is very unfortunate that students wrapping up their time at Saddleback might not be able to spend their final months on campus before transferring out. Commencement was already cancelled in May due to the large crowd that it would bring. Students receiving their transfer certificates and AA degrees will now receive them in the mail.

Saddleback may continue online instruction past the original May 1st date in order to protect both its students and faculty due to the virus spreading to various cities throughout Orange County.