May 14, 2022 – When school went online, Ruby, then a freshman, was self-conscious about showing her house on camera. She also had a hard time finding a quiet place to concentrate as her two siblings also switched to remote learning – she would often lose focus during Zoom class. During remote school, she says, “I didn’t learn anything.” Things changed for the better during Ruby’s sophomore year, when her school transitioned to hybrid learning and she decided to leave that friendship. She started to nurture relationships with the three people who are now her best friends.

“I left a toxic friendship, I explored myself more.” she says. “I would say [the pandemic] has definitely made me a stronger person.”  Teja, then a sophomore, had been diagnosed with anorexia during her freshman year of high school and when the pandemic hit, she was in recovery. NPR isn’t using her last name to protect her privacy around her anorexia.

“School was a huge motivator for me, for … staying on track for recovery because school is something I love. I love to learn. It’s really important to me and that was only possible if I was eating,” Teja says. “And then all of a sudden school was canceled.” Teja relapsed, and her family noticed. After a difficult conversation with her dad about how she might have to go to the hospital, Teja called a friend who talked her down. “She was like, ‘It’s not fair to frighten you, but on the other hand, that is the reality.’ “


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