Interpersonal relationships become a virtual reality

A survey of 58 students from May 19 to May 29.


A survey of 58 students from May 19 to May 29.

Brigid McCarthy

The closure of schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year brought a clarifying mixture of sadness and finality to high schoolers in the confusion that clouds the COVID-19 pandemic. For many students, it has been months since they’ve seen their friends, or anyone outside of their family at home.

“We haven’t even gone out for groceries,” said junior Mahita Dasu of Marlboro, explaining how her family stocked up on frozen food in early March to prepare for the pandemic. “We ordered groceries maybe twice.”

According to a study cited by Harvard Medical School, the symptoms of COVID-19 are “generally less severe in children and teens compared with adults.” Still, keeping distance from people outside of their immediate family is a sacrifice many CHS students take seriously.

“I haven’t really gone out, other than for walks,” said junior Olivia Conkling of Marlboro. “If there’s any chance that I could have it and give it to someone else, I wanna prevent that as much as possible.”

Junior Michael Rau of Marlboro agreed with Conkling; he and his family continue to observe social distance guidelines in an effort to keep themselves and others around them safe.

“I remember being in the store like, the first week that school closed and there was a teacher. I saw him for the first time in, like, five years… He gave me a hug. But I’ve stayed away from people ever since,” he said. “There’s no upside to exposing yourself or other people to getting sick.”

Social distance regulations have turned high school relationships into long-distance commitments. Sophomore Kacie Farrell of Lincroft has been dating CBA sophomore Chris Ern of Middletown for over a year, and while quarantine “was definitely an adjustment,” their nightly FaceTimes and neighbourhood walks have brought them closer together.

“We’re finding new ways to see each other which we wouldn’t have even thought of before,” Farrell said.

Many teens with a craving for human interaction find relief in social distance hangouts. For cautious senior Ryan Swanson of Brielle, they are “few and far between” and he always does his best to keep the necessary distance. 

“Usually when I go out and meet up with other people, it’s to jam on guitar or play music together, so we go outside and set up in our own corner of the yard and we get to play together,” Swanson explained. “We’re very far away, no matter what, the entire time.”

But with the warming weather and easing restrictions, some are turning optimistic. 

“I know that, like, there’s some people saying it’s going to morph and there’s going to be different strains but right now I’m not necessarily at risk,” said an anonymous female senior. Recently, she tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies. “Everyone has different opinions on social distancing, but most of my friends are kind of over it and just wanna, like, go out, so I’ve been hanging out with my friends.”

Governor Phil Murphy continues to move slowly towards reopening. With each day comes new government intelligence, new scientific breakthroughs, new state restriction lifts, and new normals. In March, Murphy passed an executive stay-at-home order. Now, he’s reopened recreational activities and recently gave NJ high schools the green light for summertime in-person graduations. Many things remain uncertain in this unprecedented pandemic, but social distance has proven effective in flattening New Jersey’s curve and following these restrictions may lead to a new tomorrow, safely.

“We’re roughly one month on our road back,” Murphy said on May 27, according to “We are now well past the peak. We’ve made an enormous amount of progress.”