One thing we all have in common right now is that we are at home, and have been for two months. Schools are closed, and all exams have been cancelled. For Year 11s (like me) and Year 13s this means we have left it up to teachers to calculate two years of practice tests, mock exams, predicted grades, and time spent studying in and outside of school into a single grade for each subject. For some of us, that will not be the grade we are hoping for or need to progress so our next chapter is disrupted by the autumn retakes. None of us have seen our friends or extended family for two months. All of us clap for careers every Thursday at 8. Most of us have been following Joe Wicks’ workout videos. None of us have been closer than two metres to someone outside of our household. We all long for how life was before lockdown. We all have good and bad days. Now, more than ever, we are all anxious about what the future will bring. I, for example, don’t know whether I’ll get the normal start to my sixth form in September. This is true for many students my age. During this unprecedented time, what we most of all have in common is the uncommon. These remarkable changes are inevitably the start to what will become our ‘new normal’. Because let’s face it, the world will not be the same after this pandemic, whether for better or for worse. And that’s true for all of us. Several of us watched the ‘Together at Home’ concert series; it gave us a temporary distraction from the surreal reality of this crazy and ever-changing world. Many students watched the recent online graduation ceremony. The mood was one of unity and hope, despite the obvious disappointment at the lack of a physical graduation. Unfortunately, this pandemic has brought to light many things that people don’t have in common, despite our similarities. We can’t all work from home. We don’t all have the privilege of online school. We don’t all have the same risk of becoming ill. Whenever I’ve had feelings of self pity, it hasn’t lasted long, as I always remember that many people are in a worse situation than I am. So many people have lost their lives or faced a bereavement. 91% of those who died from the virus in March had a pre-existing health condition. Deaths in the most deprived areas of England have been more than double those in the least deprived. Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are disproportionately represented in high-risk key worker jobs, particularly in London. Millions of families who were already struggling are facing reduced or non-existent incomes; inequality has increased across most aspects of society. We have all been impacted in this pandemic. Fundamentally, what we all have in common is that our lives will never be the same.

by Alice Garcia Kalmus, Age 16

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