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COVID-19 Oral Histories – Vidya Misra

For the past few weeks, Packer’s Upper School History Club has been working on an oral history project that documents the Packer community’s experience with COVID-19. Through 30 minute interviews with various people in the community, we have been recording people’s feelings, thoughts, and stories about this global pandemic. In addition to posting select parts of the interviews to the Prism website in both transcript and video form, we are also archiving these interviews at the Brooklyn Historical Society so that we can keep a visual and written record of these testimonies for the future generations. As for now, we hope this project is a way for people to stay connected and share their unique personal stories. Each week, new interviews will be posted, so keep coming back to learn more about your classmates’, teachers’, and colleagues’ experiences during this difficult and unusual time. We hope you enjoy! – Packer History Club Leaders, Sadie Sadler, Nick Yohn, and Amelia Killackey

Vidya MisraSeventh and Eighth Grade History Teacher, Middle School Diversity and Equity Coordinator. Interviewed by Sadie Sadler

Q: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced being stuck with the same three people?

A: “Ah, well, you know at the beginning of March I had symptoms of Covid 19, and a big challenge of that was that nobody was staying at home at that point and so my roommates had to make the decision, because I couldn’t get a test, we, we weren’t confirmed if I had it or not, so my roommates had to make a decision about whether or not to go to work, and they decided that the ethical thing to do would not to be , the ethical thing to do would be, oh my gosh, that they should not go into work because that would be unethical. And so that was challenging because I felt really guilty for causing that in some way?…and not being able to tell them if I actually had it or not um, and. So that’s that was challenging at the beginning. 

Q: Were you able to get a test? 

A: No, because in the time period that  I had it,  or potentially had it, there were very few tests available and so the City was saving them for people who were in critical condition. And thankfully it was not in critical enough condition to go into the hospital. So no, I was never able to get a test.

Q: Have those symptoms gone away?

A: Yes, yup, and I mean the more information there is, the more it sounds like I had all of the symptoms for the duration but unless I get a positive antibody test, I won’t know.

Q: Is there anyone else you know that is sick?

A: Yeah, so in my friend group, there were a few people who I saw in those weeks before who got it, later, and tested positive which is further evidence.

Q: How has that made you feel, having someone close to you have it? 

A: Oh, it’s so stressful and scary. I mean, those first few weeks. I was really really scared and stressed and sad, because I was worried about spreading it at school um I was worried about spreading it to my friends and you know, you never know who is immunocompromised or who has asthma or who might not be able to withstand the symptoms.  So that was really scary. Um, luckily, the friends of mine who have it or had it, um, have not had to be hospitalized. I had one friend who was hospitalized but he recovered eventually and did not need life saving care.  So, very stressful and scary time. 

Q: How did you feel in the weeks before Spring Break? 


A: Well, like I said before, I started showing symptoms a week before we left on Spring Break.  And I, one day, when I was feeling much better and I hadn’t had a fever that I knew of, I decided to come back um, into school one morning, I think it was a Monday or Tuesday, but then as soon as I like got into the classroom for first period I all of a sudden felt horrible again and I was like oh no, what should I do? So I went to the nurse um, and they said, “Go home, because there’s just not enough information.”  I was like, yes, that’s the safe thing to do. I felt very guilty for a long time about going in that morning afterwards. Even though I still don’t know.  Um, but then I was out the rest of that week because we didn’t have enough information and I couldn’t be tested.  And then to find out that we weren’t going to come back? It’s really hard, it’s still hard for me that I didn’t even get those last moments to try out Zoom with everyone, and say just in case we don’t come back.  Like I was already separated from everyone for that week um before we left, so I was feeling really sad because those first fifteen days of my quarantine, the rest of the world wasn’t on quarantine.  And you know, the doctor said well you should wait for 14 days until after you show the last symptom.  When that day came?  All of New York City was, then, had to be on pause, so I couldn’t even go out after that.  So this is like…day … hold on… I’m going to tell you exactly how many days … but I have to look at my calendar … Are you getting headaches from looking at screens, because I definitely am…okay… let’s see. I’m on day 72 of quarantine…A long long time. It’s crazy! And I did not think this was going to happen. I mean, I don’t think any of us thought this was going to happen those couple of weeks before Spring Break. Oh, maybe we’ll have to do a couple of classes online, but the rest of the year?

Amelia Killackey is currently a junior at The Packer Collegiate Institute and is one of the layout editors for the Packer Prism this year. Amelia continues to pursue journalism in hopes to expand on her love for writing and politics. She is also very passionate about truth in the media and hopes to translate this into her articles. Amelia can be found at Harvard Model Congress or Model UN. She also loves skiing and debating about current events. She is excited to contribute new ideas to the Prism. Amelia can be reached at amkillackey@packer.edu

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