EDITOR’S NOTE: Luke Phillips, at 13, is the oldest of seven children staying home in Liberty Hill, Texas, during the pandemic. A young leader, the seventh-grader often helps look after his siblings, and even coaches his younger brothers and sisters in their sports. A soccer goalie who is currently moving through the ranks of the Olympic Development Program, he was invited to Barcelona and participated on the U.S. team at the FC Barcelona training camp in August of last year. He recently competed in the Regional ODP Soccer Championship in January, gaining a spot in the next level of competition in Auburn, in August of this year. Luke is the grandson of longtime RACmonitor contributor Angie Phillips, PT. 

As an athlete and student, COVID-19 has caused many emotions to come up. Some things were kind of cool, but I don’t think we handled it very well.

We broke for spring break, thinking we could all be going back after one week. Spring break quickly turned into two weeks, then four weeks, and eventually, we never went back to school. We started “learning from home” after our two-week spring break. It was new and weird. While technology is great, it was a whole different way to learn. The teachers had to learn a new way to teach, and the students had to learn a new way to learn. Some subjects are easy to teach over the computer, like my tech apps class. But some, like science, are a lot harder. I can’t do the experiments at home by myself. So I ended up watching a lot of videos of others doing things and then writing about it.

I like to learn hands-on, so it was harder for me to pay attention. I had to be more self-motivated, since I didn’t have a teacher running the class and telling us what to do every day. The good thing is I can go back and re-watch the lesson if I didn’t get it the first time. I have a teacher who does not like to reteach, so if you don’t get it the first time, it is hard to get help. By being home, I was able to re-watch things and learn at my own pace, which helped me understand the material better and not feel the stress of having to get it the first time. My grades in that class have gotten better. Although it doesn’t matter, really, since the school is just doing a pass/fail system. Not getting credit for the actual work you do makes it harder to put in the extra effort. And when you do well, it is kind of disappointing to only get a “pass” instead of the good grade you earned.

It is weird to not see your friends. Everyone was expecting to not be saying goodbye, but “see you in a week.” We didn’t get to say our goodbyes to our friends, coaches, and teachers. The year has ended with no real end. A lot of my friends are going into high school next year, and I don’t get to say goodbye before they leave. I cannot imagine what the seniors are going through. My house is not very lonely, since I have a lot of siblings, but I know people are lonely not being able to see people. I think a lot of kids are getting more addicted to social media, since it’s the only way to connect with friends right now.

As an athlete, I hate it. I cannot practice with my team and coaches. I travel across the U.S. for competitions and training, and those are all canceled. These camps are to get all the top athletes from each state together to compete, and now we cannot do that. It will affect next year’s teams too. Since no one can practice together, we must find ways to practice by ourselves for a team sport. It is hard to motivate yourself, especially when you really need another player there to play with you. Not being able to meet with our coaches is hard too. Athletes need their coaches there to push them and help fine-tune their stills. We will all have a lot of work to do when we can get back into it again.

While I understand we need to keep people safe, I think shutting everything down was a dumb idea. It has stopped so many things that will have impacts for longer than just a few months. I wish we could have allowed those who felt the need to stay home to do so, and those who still wanted to go out to do that too. If we could go to school if we felt safe, but also had the option to learn from home if we lived with someone who was at a high risk, I think it would have done the same thing, but not put so much pressure on families. I am lucky to have my mom not work, so she was able to help me and my siblings do school work, while my dad worked. I cannot think it was easy for families where both parents worked. I hope we can get back out soon and try and get back to normal.

Maybe people will be more careful about staying home when they are sick now.

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