Life During Quarantine


Alex Tisa

A class at HB being taught over Zoom. This year has forced teachers to be adaptive and innovative in order to tailor their classes to remote environments. “I think teaching online can make you a better teacher. You have to be crystal clear with where you want to go, what learning experience will help students develop skills, and you have to be really, really organized, and think ahead all of the time.” said Illingworth.

Alex Tisa, Head Editor

On a cold March day, students left the building with hopes high, looking forward to returning to school in two weeks once COVID-19 blew over. What students didn’t know, however, is that this would be the last time in months they would step foot inside the halls of Hollis-Brookline High School. For the next six months, students would have to begin adapting to a new reality: a reality entailing remote learning, masks, and hours of newly found free time. For many, this was one of the strangest summer breaks to date.


Throughout all of the challenges it brought, Principal Rick Barnes still worked hard throughout quarantine. “I have never worked harder in my life. Quarantine brought me the most amount of work; I was tied to my computer 12-14 hours a day,” said Barnes.


Barnes, along with other teachers and administrators, were hard at work throughout quarantine reconstructing school policies and curriculum to best suit the new normal Hollis-Brookline was facing. “I began the year by telling staff our ‘goals’, if you will, are safety, connecting with students, and then instruction, in that order. If we can’t make kids safe, and be able to connect with them, then nothing’s going to happen. We’re wasting our time, otherwise.” explained Barnes.


For some, quarantine was a time to learn new things. English teacher Lin Illingworth spent her quarantine studying online learning, even though she didn’t anticipate that being where students would end up. “Last year I began to see the potential online learning had in my AP Lang class. I was beginning to realize that online learning needs flexible platforms, face-to-face communication, and it has to be social. That is the biggest thing. Being online has to be as social and engaged as possible.” explained Illingworth. “I looked at the curriculum, but it wasn’t about what we could take away, it was more about how we could still meet the essential goals of the class. You have to find new ways of doing things. I call it ‘amphibious teaching’, because we’re teaching on dry land and online.”


For students, however, this was one of the most unpredictable and hectic school years on record. “[It was] the most mentally maturing 6 months of my life,” said Hunter Hudzik, ‘21. Throughout this, however, students were able to adapt and still enjoy their usual months of school. “I enjoyed this summer a lot,” explained Hudzik. “Every day was something new and different, with everyone continually adapting to the new rules around the lockdown and everything that went with it. It also brought me closer to all of the people in the grade and especially brought my tight knit friend group even closer together.”


Through all this, Barnes wishes to tell students to “Appreciate the things you have.” He continued, saying, ‘We don’t know if we’re gonna have another outbreak, so just enjoy this time, be mindful, and make the most of it.’” Barnes stated his mantra over the past six months has been “Improvise, adapt, overcome.”, which are without a doubt three crucial components to living throughout COVID-19. Illingworth, on the other hand, chose, “see the big picture”, another key to persevering through this pandemic.


“In general, I appreciate student’s efforts and compliance with things. We’re not perfect, but I do see the effort is always there, and kids have been really great. I’m in touch with a lot of other schools, and we’re lucky to have the students, staff, and parents we have, or else it wouldn’t work,” said Barnes. “It would just be a constant battle.” 


For more information on the COVID-19 outbreak in New Hampshire, please visit