Kids on the Covid-19 pandemic: What young people think about how it was handled πŸ’₯πŸ’₯πŸ’₯

As the United States has grappled with a deadly pandemic of historic proportions, young people have been watching.

Many were old enough to understand its challenges β€” yet too young to be making key decisions themselves. But they felt Covid-19’s impacts nevertheless as the country weighed central debates: virtual learning or in-person? Masks or no masks? Vaccination mandates or not?

And with another school year underway, young people are once again at the center of much of the conversation. While health experts promote school mask policies and an increase in vaccination rates to protect students who gather in classrooms, some governors have pushed back.

Many young people told CNN they felt helpless while others worried about their mental health. β€œThis pandemic has brought me self-reflection and analysis, but it also was a test on the world and this country, and I fear we are failing,” said Ella Stromberg, a 17-year-old from Vancouver, Washington.

Young Americans may not have autonomy over how they attend school, if their families get vaccinated or the policies elected officials implement, but they are observing the victories and pitfalls of those who do.

During the recent Covid-19 surge leading into the school year, CNN asked Americans 16 and over what they’ve taken away from the pandemic thus far. Here’s what they had to say.

Ella’s pandemic scrapbook

We asked our respondents to send in some pictures that they felt best described their pandemic experience. Ella Stromberg, a high school student from Washington state, said the pandemic left her struggling to still be a teenager in the isolation and divide.

Stromberg joined her school’s cross country team for the first time once in-person sports began β€” she says she was eager to participate, no matter what sport it was.
She signed up for her school’s leadership camp, which was eventually moved online. Since she’s a senior, she will never be able to experience the camp in person.
She carved pumpkins over Zoom.
Courtesy of Ella Stromberg

Sebastian’s pandemic scrapbook

Sebastian, 17, went through the pandemic in New York state β€” one of the places that was hardest hit early on.

Fraccari snapped a selfie while riding the subway in New York.
He enjoyed some time with friends outside in July of last year, when cases were declining slightly.
Nearly a year later, as the Delta variant dominated the news, he kept his mask on during an outing with friends this August.
Courtesy of Sebastian Fraccari

Justina’s pandemic scrapbook

In New York state, Justina Michaels said the world moving online took a toll on her schooling and her self-esteem.

Michaels visited the grocery store with a friend after school.
She and a friend took a masked-up selfie in the school bathroom.
She waited for the results of an exam.
Courtesy of Justina Michaels

Jackson’s pandemic scrapbook

In Pennsylvania, 18-year-old Jackson said he felt the brunt of the pandemic but also saw the country coming together to look for solutions.

Neofes climbed to the top of a mountain in Vermont this August, marking the first vacation he had been able to take since the start of the pandemic.
He visited the White House this April, after heading to D.C. for a college visit.
He turned 18 this January, and snapped a picture outside his polling place after casting his first ballot during a May 2021 municipal primary in Pennsylvania.
Courtesy of Jackson Neofes

Kids on the Covid-19 pandemic: What young people think about how it was handled

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