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What it's been like to be a kid during the pandemic


We've heard a lot from parents and teachers about their challenges with school schedules caused by COVID-19 and now the omicron variant. Now let's speak with a student. Izzy Peoples is a sixth-grader at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School in Atlanta, Ga. And our team spoke to her last in May of 2020. And, boy, that can seem like a long time ago. Izzy Peoples joins us now. Izzy, thanks so much for being with us.

IZZY PEOPLES: Of course.

SIMON: How you doing? How are you feeling?

IZZY: Pretty nervous. I've never really done this kind of thing before except for that one time back in 2020. It's - a lot of things have changed since 2020. I think we all kind of thought COVID was going to be this, like, fast-flying thing, that we were just going to be doing this for, like, a month or something. But, (laughter) no, that has not happened at all.

SIMON: Yeah. And I understand your mother has been diagnosed, right?

IZZY: Yes. I've been kind of quarantining. My dad and my stepmother also have COVID, so I've been just, like, in my room. I've been doing a lot of crafts. It's hard, though, 'cause every time I have to see her, I'm, like, wearing a mask, and I can't, like, be very, very close to her. And it's hard.

SIMON: I have a daughter - I have two daughters, but I have one in particular who's a little older than you who likes to say remote schooling is really very remote, indeed.

IZZY: Yes.

SIMON: How do you feel about it?

IZZY: Well, I think I'm pretty lucky in the fact that I did make friends before I went to remote school, which I really like because it would've been horrible if I had to make friends at remote school. But I like remote school in some ways. I like that I can get straight to work whenever I want. But I really miss my friends...

SIMON: Yeah.

IZZY: ...And, like, being able to interact with people.

SIMON: Yeah. I understand you plan to go back to school next week, right?

IZZY: Yes, on Tuesday.

SIMON: Looking forward to it?

IZZY: Yeah, looking forward to it.

SIMON: I got to ask, though, since your family knows COVID directly, any concerns?

IZZY: My mom has, like, health issue with COVID. My brother has asthma. I just had a younger brother. He is 3 months old. And obviously, there's, like, fear in having that young of a brother in, like - through this time 'cause they could - well, obviously, they can get sick for thousands of reasons. But, like, COVID just, like, puts some extra fear onto that.

SIMON: Sure. Has it been hard to keep up friendships?

IZZY: Yes. At the beginning of COVID, I had this friend group. But I think we were all really bored. And I was in, like, fourth grade. And then I went to a new school.

SIMON: Yeah.

IZZY: And I had to make friends there. But I don't think you can really have, like, a true friendship without, like, being able to, like, be close with each other and laugh with each other 'cause I feel like...

SIMON: Yeah.

IZZY: ...That just wouldn't be easy. And we aren't thinking about COVID, like, all the time in our friendships.

SIMON: I think you're very right. I - that makes a lot of sense to, I think, anybody who's ever been a kid and anyone who's a parent. What would you like adults to know?

IZZY: Just know that we - like, it's hard for us to be in this situation. But we are smart about things. We know what is happening. And we know, like, the effects of COVID. Some people don't. But there are a lot of kids who are very smart about COVID. And, like, especially with, like, TikTok, there is so much information going on over there. Like, we're like - the Gen Z are very - they're very smart, and we know what is happening...

SIMON: Yeah.

IZZY: ...In the world right now.

SIMON: Boy, you think you'll remember these two years for the rest of your life, tell your children and grandchildren about it?

IZZY: Probably not.


IZZY: I barely remember right now. My mom got me this...

SIMON: Yeah.

IZZY: ...Like, feather pen and ink and, like, a really old journal. And I've started writing down, like - I don't know - just, like, how my day has been. So maybe I can remember because - I kind of regret not doing it at the beginning of COVID because I would like to remember, and I don't really remember anything.

SIMON: Yeah. What do you hope we take out of these days? What do you think we've learned?

IZZY: I hope we learned that we have to work together to, like, get through stuff because if we don't, then catastrophe will happen. We also need to learn that we are not having the same situation because obviously their - like, my experience with COVID will not be of that of, like, a poor person who has to work at a grocery store every day. But I think we all have to know that we are in COVID together, even though if we don't have the same experiences, we are all in COVID right now.

SIMON: Izzy Peoples is a sixth-grader - although I got to say, you sound much older and wiser than just sixth grade - at Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School in Georgia. Thanks so much for being with us. Our thanks and best wishes to you and your family, OK?

IZZY: You too. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Scott Simon
Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.