Across the Pond

Students from the United Kingdom share their experiences during the pandemic.


image courtesy of Peter Nicholls-EPA

President Donald Trump & U.K. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, have very different approaches to the virus outbreak.

Lorenzo Zottoli, Staff Writer

March 13th, 2020 was one of the last normal days before our lives became consumed with COVID-19, masks, and social distancing. The following days, weeks, and months would determine how soon our lives would return to normal. Around the world, panic spread as heads of state began to handle the virus differently from one another.

Comparing the responses of US President Donald Trump to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson shows two extremely different directions of leadership. Jess Anderson, Daniel Baughurst, Yasmin West, and Georgia Gent, who all live in Kent, a small village an hour north of London, explain how they feel Johnson handled the outbreak since March.

“Well, at first we did not go into lockdown as fast as you [America] did. Life was normal for a little, but around the end of March, we stopped going to school and switched to online. From April to May, we would switch on and off from going to school a couple of days a week to not going to school at all. It depended on how we were doing that given week. Luckily, I took my GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) last year, so I didn’t have to worry about them, but normally our schools continue into the middle of July. At my school, if we did not have to study for the GCSE, we got to start our summer in early June. Overall, as much as I hate the man, I think Boris did an ok job with dealing with it. Besides sometimes having to wear masks, I had a pretty normal summer, even though some trips were canceled.” ~ Jess Anderson, Year 12

“To be honest, whenever we had the shift to wearing masks and having to cut down on interaction in the corridors, it was fine. The only annoying part out of all of this was when my friends got to leave school early last year, but I had to stay an extra month for the GCSE. Everyone wore their masks when needed, including Boris. For me, the main concern was not being able to go into work every day, but over the summer, for the most part, everything was lifted. This school year, we are able to take off our masks at our desks, but we have to carry our own hand gel with us. Everyone has been going back five days a week with full capacity of the school, and they have markers up on the trains and buses to indicate where to stand. Cases are starting to rise again here, but as of right now we are almost back to normal.” ~ Daniel Baughurtst, Year 11

“When we went into lockdown, my family took it very seriously. My mom has lung issues, and she wanted all of us to quarantine. I think that, compared to others, I was stuck inside from March to the start of July. I love my mom and would do anything to protect her, but it was a tad annoying being stuck inside. As for how Boris handled it, I think he did a peng job. We went on a strict lockdown for a month at the start, but then when our cases completely dropped we went back to living life like normal. When my mom let me go out again, I was able to go to the dance with no masks and enjoy life again. Since cases have been rising again, I have had to go back to online school and back to quarantine, but I hope it is handled as it was in the spring.” ~ Yamin West, Year 12

“I think Boris handled the job as well as he could. My family likes to joke around about how lucky we are not to live in America right now — no offense (*laughter*). I don’t think Boris handled the virus the best out of every other country, but he sure did it better than Trump. For me, my life was pretty normal. I enjoyed online school last year, and in June I was already back to playing football. I have a feeling we will be going back into lockdown soon because no one at school wears masks or really follows the social distancing rules on the train. I’m nervous about this school year because I have to take my GCSE this year, and after missing so much school last year I don’t feel prepared. I don’t know what I would have done differently from what Boris did — I just wish life was back to normal.” ~ Georgia Gent, Year 10