Coronavirus Empties School

By Henry DiZefalo

Photo by Jared Jimenez Ramos

This spring break, my family was supposed to go to Disney World. Instead, the highlight of my spring break was that my dad made chocolate chip cookies. 

As of this writing, we have been social-distancing for seven weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, a new respiratory virus that has spread across the globe, infecting millions of people. Schools and businesses have been closed, and residents ordered to stay home. When we do go out, we are supposed to wear masks and stay six feet apart. 

We learned on Monday that we will not be returning to school at all this year by order of Governor Phil Murphy.

He said during a press conference, “I had hoped that we could get back to a sense of normal by allowing our children to return to the schools they love, and to be with their friends and classmates. But the reality is that we cannot safely reopen our schools to provide students and families, or faculty and staff, the confidence needed to allow for a return to in-person instruction.”

New Jersey has had the second largest number of cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the country. As of yesterday, there were 128,000 confirmed cases and 7,910 deaths in New Jersey. 

Here’s what some of the people I asked said about how they feel:

 “I hate it because I can’t see my friends or take a walk. I have had a bad experience with this,” said Dylan Katz, grade 7.

“It feels like you are on vacation but you still have to do school work,” said Caden Herron, grade 7.

We have been doing virtual instruction every day, seeing our classmates and teachers on video chats. 

Mr. Taylor, a middle school math teacher, said he misses seeing students in person. “It does make you appreciate your colleagues and your students more because you miss them. And it gives us something to look forward to,” he said.

Layla Katz, fourth grade, said she has been spending time making art, like a painting of an eye in acrylic on canvas that she recently completed. However, she said, “It feels awkward not being able to talk to your friends in real life and see them in person.”

Personally, I didn’t think it was that bad until the school band performance for the Devils game got canceled. My grandma had to have her birthday cake with me on Facetime. My dad’s coworker had COVID-19 but got better. Then his boss’s grandpa got it too and died. Now another one of my dad’s coworkers has died. I missed out when my uncle and aunt had a baby boy. His name is Ethan. He was born on March 27. I can’t wait until I get to meet him.

Eighth graders have it the worst. Their Washington D.C. trip was canceled and their graduation ceremony postponed. “Well, it’s devastating. I was really looking forward to it as long as I could remember,” said Henry Leyva Medrano, eighth grade. “It’s just overall a real bummer.” 

It is affecting eighth-graders immensely,” said Makayla Rose. eighth grade. “We are losing something we have been looking forward to for a long time. Knowing that we may not have graduation is even harder. BBES is like another family to me. I worry that we won’t ever see the teachers again. I have wanted to go to Washington since fifth grade when my brother went, then my sister went and they said it was really fun.”

Some people are saying that there are upsides to the quarantine. There is less pollution, and people have more time for their families and hobbies. But I, for one, cannot wait until we get back to school and this spring becomes just a memory that we can tell our children. 


  • Excellent reporting Henry !!! We hope to see you and the family this year in Naples Fl !


  • Great reporting ,you are a very talented young man. Your an honor to your family…
    I’m proud to call you part of my family.
    Nina La Marca-Siano


  • Bravo Henry on an excellent report


  • Marissa Vitale

    Great article Henry, this is a very difficult time for our BBES students. I can’t wait until we can all be together again.


  • Henry, you are an amazing journalist. You covered every aspect of this terrible time in our country from your family’s personal experiences to those of your teachers and friends. I am very sorry about your graduation from eight grade. It is the time of recognition for your years of dedicated work and is an exciting time. It is easy to say, but although you will not attend graduation, it is an experience you will not soon forget. I would like to wish you congratulations. Your family is so very proud of you for your hard work, and I would guess even more so because of this perilous time we are facing,


  • Bravo Henry, excellent writing! Perhaps you can write for the Asbury Insider 😉


  • Henry – nice job on this article! This is a difficult time for everyone and you captured that in your reporting, as well as some of the “silver linings”. So sorry to hear about your dad’s co-workers and I do feel terrible for our wonderful 8th graders. Love the way you gave students a voice in this article and made it personal as well. Well done!!
    PS I keep thinking about your dad’s cookies…. were they any good??!?! 😉


  • Excellent journalism and exceptional writing, Henry. I am, however, going to hold you to your final comments about looking forward to getting back to school. Stay strong. Stay healthy.


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