“I did not ask to be an extra in a bad horror movie!” Aili Carney, 15 grumbles as she prepares for school. She rolls out of bed, plops onto a desk chair, and logs into zoom. Such is the reality of living in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past two and a half months, the Carney house has become a school, office, gym, and daycare as the household attempts to go about their daily lives without leaving their front yard.
“Aleks is evil” Aili Carney mutters, hiding under her blanket. Her sister was once again playing the heartwrenching song “I’m Still Here”. The song had been blaring in their shared room for 15 minutes, and Aleksandra had no intention of shutting it off any time soon.
Never leaving your room can have some disastrous side effects, as the Carney sisters soon discovered. Aili sits in the corner ignoring the mess, as she attempts to concentrate on her remote school work. Aleksandra chooses not to mention the state of their room, as the last time it was brought up she got a water bottle chucked at her head.
Jennifer Kuchar-Carney attempts to help her youngest son Jonah with his 1st-grade school work in between her own calls. As a VLACS educator, her workload has dramatically increased with the onset of COVID as more students switch to online learning. The family dining room has become an office and classroom, as most meals are now eaten in rooms in-between zoom calls.
Welcome to the COVID-19 classroom, 26 students in a zoom call while their teacher writes equations on a whiteboard in her kitchen. Not the ideal situation, especially for a complex science like chemistry, but Doc Hanlen is committed to seeing her honors students through the rest of the year, even if that means battling poor internet connection.
Brendan (12) and Jonah Carney (7) wrestle on the couch while their mother attempts to talk with a student in the next room. Unable to play with their friends, the two boys spend their time playing video games or chasing each other around the house with nerf guns, mops, and plastic high chairs. With both their parents working and their older sisters on school calls, the two are often left to their own devices.
“I miss you”. Aleksandra Carney (17) Facetimes her boyfriend Logan Raymond (17) in between classes. The couple has only seen each other in person twice since quarantine and social distancing orders began. With Logan leaving in July for Army basic training, their time is running out. Despite the distance, the two call each other every day, making plans for their life after COVID-19 is over.
“When Mom isn’t home” doesn’t really apply in quarantine, but that didn’t stop the Carney siblings from recreating this iconic Vine in their quest to stave off boredom. Brendan plays his trombone while Aili slams the oven door in full view of both their parents. Shortly after this picture was taken, both siblings received a talking to from their very confused father. Brendan’s only response was that they “Did it for the vine”.
“California, get me out of here! Get me OUT!” Aili Carney sings along to “California” by Phantom Planet, albeit with slightly different lyrics, while her sister cackles in the background. Both teenagers are feeling the effects of cabin fever, more than a little sick of seeing the same four walls every day.
“Bye Mrs. Rokes!” Jonah calls, waving his thank you sign as his teacher parades around the neighborhood with the rest of the Derry Village Elementry school staff. He won’t be returning to her classroom next year, so this will be the last time he sees his 1st grade teacher.
Aili Carney shows off her newest fashion accessory during a short walk on her deserted street. Gone is the once tight nit community as neighbors take care to avoid each other.
With no foreseeable end to social distancing measures insight, the Carney family will have to continue to adjust to this new normal. For them, this means keeping a box of masks by the backdoor, gloves, and Purel in each car, and sharing much closer quarters than some would like. However, the family refuses to let the unusual situation damper their spirit. “I enjoy having all my kids home” reflects Jennifer Kuchar-Carney “Because they haven’t been busy with school activities, we’ve been able to do things together that we haven’t since all of them were little. It’s just a matter of adjusting to unforeseen circumstances, and I believe we will get through it together.