A COVID-19 year in the life at Mac

Today marks anniversary of pandemic’s arrival in Austin; students reflect on the moment, how they’ve changed

GUARDIANS+OF+OUR+GALAXY%3A+The+custodial+staff+begins+a+deep+clean+of+the+Mac+campus+on+Friday+March+13+by+wiping+down+the+tables+in+the+cafeteria.+Originally+the+deep+clean+was+to+take+place+during+spring+break%2C+but+because+of+today%27s+districtwide+cancellation%2C+administrators+decided+to+start+it+today+instead.+Assistant+principal+Gabe+Reyes+urged+all+teachers+to+make+their+classrooms+ready+for+the+deep+clean+by+10+a.m.+Photo+by+Dave+Winter.

Dave Winter

GUARDIANS OF OUR GALAXY: The custodial staff begins a deep clean of the Mac campus on Friday March 13 by wiping down the tables in the cafeteria. Originally the deep clean was to take place during spring break, but because of today’s districtwide cancellation, administrators decided to start it today instead. Assistant principal Gabe Reyes urged all teachers to make their classrooms ready for the deep clean by 10 a.m. Photo by Dave Winter.

Alice Scott with Kate Boyle, Anna McClellan and Grace Nugent

Alice Scott, staff reporter

On the one year anniversary of the first cases of COVID-19 in Austin, Texas, and the cancellation of AISD schools before spring break of 2020, McCallum students reflect on their last day of pre-pandemic life.

In the beginning, it was kind of fun. It was just like ‘Oh, extra days of spring break. But then it went a month, and then another month, and then it went through the next school year, and now we’re sitting here at a year.”

— junior Wynter Winston

“I was just talking to my friends in the hallway, getting ready to go to class, and I was talking to the teachers,” freshman Serena Galloway-Mark said. “It was just like a normal day.”

A busy day at McCallum and other schools across the district, students were preparing for UIL competitions, going on field trips and participating in various sporting events.

“I remember having a great win against College Station,” senior Trini De La Garza said, referring to McCallum’s participation in the Leander ISD 2020 Baseball Tournament. “Seeing everybody step up, was great for everyone as far as confidence building.” 

Expecting to return to school the next day, on Friday March 13, students woke up to the news that the virus had reached Austin, and that schools would be closed early for spring break.

“I remember waking up super early, and I was like ‘I do not want to be up this early,’ senior Ari Miller-Fortman said. “And then I remember looking at my phone and getting a bunch of news messages saying that there were, I think it was two COVID cases in Austin and that they had cancelled school.”

The initial cancellation of schools was extended as cases rose and public health conditions worsened throughout the city.

“In the beginning, it was kind of fun. It was just like ‘Oh, extra days of spring break,’” junior Wynter Winston said. “But then it went a month, and then another month, and then it went through the next school year, and now we’re sitting here at a year.”

The time spent quarantining from the COVID-19 pandemic had caused students to consider how they have changed and what has become most important.

“Just live life to the fullest,” Galloway-Mark said. “Because you never know when something might happen and you can’t anymore.”

— with reporting by Kate Boyle, Anna McClellan and Grace Nugent

A March 12 and 13, 2020, gallery