The Abrupt End of Freshman Year Due to COVID-19

Last year, right around this time, I posted a photo on Facebook and wrote, “That’s the last spring break for us.” My daughter Rachel planned to go to school at Northwest Missouri State University, and their spring break did not align with Iowa City Community School District’s.

A photo of three sisters celebrating what they thought would be their last spring break
Spring break, 2019, St. Louis

I wrote some words of wisdom, we all got sad, and we drove her off to Maryville, Missouri, last August. On her dad’s birthday, just to add to the general pathos of the situation.

Her spring break this year was scheduled for March 9 to March 13; before she packed up her two Ikea bags of laundry and drove home, we didn’t really know much about the coming pandemic.

Information was out there, yes, but we didn’t realize how drastically our lives would all change in two weeks.

First, her spring break was extended—so now she did actually have the same break as her sisters, not that we could go anywhere. She had already finished her spring break plan of “binge watching the old Nickelodeon TV show Victorious.” By Thursday, March 19, she knew she wasn’t going back for the year; she and my husband drove down on Saturday, March 21 to clean out her dorm room.


A photo of an empty dorm room after the abrupt end of freshman year at college
Rachel in her empty dorm room

On Monday, March 23, she will begin taking classes online—not her choice, and not the choice of her professors, either. She and every other college kid in America are now attending Zoom University.

She’s actually taking it pretty well. This isn’t what she wanted, of course; she would rather be seeing her new friends, observing classes for her elementary education degree, and of course our house doesn’t have a full service cafeteria.

But she understands, as we all do, the need to distance ourselves to stop the spread of COVID-19.

At least she is only a freshman. This is an especially heartbreaking time for seniors, many of whose graduation ceremonies have already been canceled.

These are difficult times. But in the words of an anthem familiar to many of the class of 2019 and 2020, “We’re all in this together.”


Sharon Falduto is a Central Iowa native who came to University of Iowa in 1991 and essentially never left the area. She is involved in local community theater, notably as one of the co-founders of Iowa City's Dreamwell Theatre. She has also directed children's plays with the Young Footliters group. Sharon works in with English Language Learners in a support position at Kirkwood Community College.. She lives in Coralville with her husband, Matt, and three daughters Rachel, Samantha, and Piper.


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