DVC Students Face Anxiety And Economic Fears Amid COVID-19 Pandemic


Classes at DVC will remain online during the summer semester, too (Pavlina Markova/The Inquirer).

As counties across the Bay Area maintain the shelter-in-place orders until at least May 3, Diablo Valley College students are feeling the coronavirus “crunch:” a combination of isolation and other mental health issues associated with social distancing.

Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered all Californians on March 19 to stay home and only leave their house for the essentials like grocery shopping and pharmacy visits. For many DVC students, life has become a struggle. Many are waiting to go back to school and wondering when their lives can return to normal.  

Simine Froz, a political science major, said that she largely spends her time with her family painting, playing cards and watching movies now that the campus is closed. 

“Since we’re confined, I don’t get to go outside much and I can’t really go out grocery shopping with my mom,” said Froz. “I do miss going outside, going out to restaurants and meeting up with my friends.”

Antonella Crawley, another DVC student and an English tutor, said she misses helping students. Although tutoring has been moved online, her workload has dropped drastically since the closure either because students are busier, or because they’re not informed of the academic resources available. 

“I used to work eight hours a week, and now it’s four. I haven’t had one appointment at all this week.”

Crawley said that she is ready for school to reopen. She wants to return to her work.

“My job is to help people, and I can’t do that” from home,” she said. “I can’t wait to tutor again.”

As students are in a state of uncertainty, some are feeling worried about what the future will look like with economic uneasiness and unemployment rising. According to the Washington Post, more than 17 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past four weeks. In the last week of March, unprecedented levels of unemployment claims were seen, with over 925,000 individuals declaring losses in Calif.

To combat the economic impact of the virus, President Trump has signed a bipartisan $2 trillion economic relief plan to help American workers, households and businesses affected by the pandemic. But according to some DVC students, the package is not enough for Americans who are  struggling financially. 

“The coronavirus stimulus package that they sent out, the $1,200 one-time payment, that’s a joke. That doesn’t even cover a month of rent,” said Clare Katko, a political science major. “They need to send out $2,000 a month to everyone and they need to include college students.” 

Dorothy Holmes, DVC student and ASDVC diversity affairs officer, has noticed a considerable impact on business where she works, describing it as a “ghost town.”

Like Holmes, many individuals are witnessing the economic crunch of COVID-19. According to the California Restaurant Association, up to 30 percent of the state’s restaurants could close without additional state aid funding.

In addition to the economic carnage, students are experiencing anxieties over having to self-isolate for months. For Emma Sonas, a biology major, the shift from being out in society to self-quarantining is “very difficult.”

“One of my daily struggles, even before the pandemic, is to not stay in bed and isolate in my room. It’s too easy for me to slip into a deep depression…” said Sonas. “With the pandemic, I feel unbelievably trapped.”

To combat the pandemics’ impact on mental health, diversity affairs officer Holmes said, staying informed about COVID-19 related news has been a crucial way for students to ward off daily fears.

The stimulus package may be sufficient for a month, but the long-term effects of COVID-19 remain unknown.  As the virus is continuing to spread, the campus is expected to be closed for the remainder of the semester. 

In a DVC Open Student Forum, Gabriel Harven, Admissions and Records Supervisor, said, “DVC will be opening once the shelter-in-place order is rescinded.” Harven also said the college “will be online for the summer.”