Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Photo Collection: COVID-19, One Year Later

A collection of images and stories from Collegian staff, reflecting on how the COVID-19 pandemic has shaped their last year

Seniors

March 3, 2020

Mehroz Kapadia – Haigis Mall

“I took this photograph of MASSPIRG students encouraging others to vote during the presidential primary election. I remember after taking this picture, I forced my roommate, Nina, to walk with me to the nearby elementary school to vote. The weather was beautiful, but it was difficult to enjoy it because the weight of the election was giving me so much anxiety. It’s hard to think about how many good and bad changes have occurred within this past year.”

Mehroz Kapadia, Assistant Photo Editor

February 21-28, 2020

“I took these two photos on consecutive weekends while traveling during my study abroad experience in Florence, Italy last spring. I distinctly remember taking a photo of the first sign because I was infatuated with how long the German word for “tissue” was, not even because of the significance of coronavirus at the time.

COVID-19 wasn’t really a big deal at the time, though the first cases in Italy did start sparking up in the coming days. A couple days after the first photo was taken, I took a bus back to Florence from Switzerland and the bus driver had to pull off on the side of the highway for a break, because Italy started shutting down the rest stops to prevent the spread. This was the first moment I realized coronavirus was becoming more of a deal, but still wasn’t much cause for concern.

Over the next week, I got a million emails from UMass, my abroad program and the U.S. Embassy with updates on the disease, new cases, where it was spreading, etc., and the travel advisory level started rising from Level 1, to Level 2 in just a few days. Some other American universities started bringing students from my program home as a precaution, however I ignorantly still carried on with my weekend travel plans, thinking it wouldn’t impact me at all.

I took the second photo the morning of the day when I learned I was being called home, just a week after I took the first photo. The embassy travel advisory had reached Level 3, advising for “no non-essential travel” and UMass followed it up by telling us we had to come home. It felt very unfair in the moment that my other friends studying abroad in different places were allowed to stay. I was definitely a bit heartbroken, and the consensus among my friends and locals was that “it was being overblown by the media.”

As I traveled back to the United States just a few days after, I was still disappointed that my experience was cut short, not understanding the gravity of the situation. But in the next few weeks, program after program and country after country was sending students back home. It is still so surreal to me how quickly everything changed.”

Dan McGee, Assistant Sports Editor and Copy Editor

March 11-13, 2020

“As a news reporter, I didn’t feel like I was personally living through the shut down of campus. The only thing I was focused on was reporting about it. We got the news that campus was closing when I was in a journalism class. My phone buzzed with a news notification from the Boston Globe and then soon after, an email from the University. I could not concentrate. The only thing I could think of was rushing to the newsroom to cover what was going on. When class ended I basically ran to the basement of the campus center where the newsroom was bustling with people trying to get out stories. Little did I know, that would be the last time I would ever work in that office. At the time, we thought we were going home for two weeks after spring break.

The first photo is a tweet I sent on March 11 when grabbing food at Blue Wall after being in the Daily Collegian office for a few hours, as previously described. Students were buying up food in Harvest because they weren’t sure they would get all their money’s worth on their meal plan.

The other photo is a snapchat I sent to friends when standing in line in Blue Wall on March 13. This was taken soon before we realized we wouldn’t be coming back to UMass for the rest of the semester. I remember that I finally took a step back and processed what was going on.

Now, as I am about to graduate, the world looks and feels completely different than when I took that photo and sent that tweet. However, it is still hard to make sense of things. I hope everyone reading this is safe and healthy.”

Cassie McGrath, News Editor

March 12, 2020

“My brother was visiting me from Pittsburgh over his spring break. I had carefully packed the few days of his stay with as many activities as possible. He was going to get the complete Amherst experience. On this day pictured above, I gave him a tour of the best spots on campus. Later, we took a food tour of downtown, with a mandatory stop at Antonio’s, and got back just in time to catch the sunset from the top floor of the library.

I was most excited for him to experience a hockey match at Mullins Center and had gotten us both tickets for the Hockey East quarterfinals scheduled for that weekend. It became clear over the next few days that this was not going to happen. What had so far been mere whispers of a mysterious illness soon resulted in the shutdown of all five colleges in the Pioneer Valley.

I remember waving goodbye to my brother as he boarded an early bus back to Pittsburgh the next day. I stood alone at Haigis Mall long after, unable to shake the inexplicable feeling that I wasn’t going to see him for a long time.”

March 13, 2020

Bhavya Pant – Coolidge Hall

“My friends all moved back to their homes the next day, along with most of the student body. Pictured above is my roommate Alana saying goodbye to our room. Back then, it had only seemed like a temporary goodbye. But home for me was 7,000 miles away. So I decided to stay put on campus and wait this strange period out. This time I stood alone outside Coolidge Hall and watched my friends drive away, convinced I would be reunited with them in just a few weeks.

Weeks turned into months as the virus worsened. International borders closed, visa restrictions were instated, and any hope of me going home was over. I finished my junior year alone in my room, the only soul on the 11th floor of Coolidge Hall. Barring the occasional video call home, I had no one to interact with. This period was the loneliest I’ve ever felt.”

“As spring rolled around, I found comfort in my daily walks around the isolated campus. The absence of the usual crowds made it hard not to pay attention. The place I’d called home for the last three years was suddenly more beautiful to me than I’d ever realized.”

May 7, 2020

Bhavya Pant – Coolidge Hall

“It was May when I finally moved to my brother’s place in Pittsburgh. My roommate Alana drove all the way from Beverly to pick me up. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see another human being.”

Bhavya Pant, Opinion Editor

March 5, 2020

Nina Walat – Mullins Center

“I was brand new to shooting sports in 2019, and since no one else in the section wanted to shoot hockey, I was the “unlucky” one that ended up walking down to Mullins almost every week. I never expected to develop such a sincere love for the game, but that’s exactly what happened over the next few months. The 15-minute sprint back to my dorm after the final period to edit hundreds of pictures became the most exciting thing that I did with my weekend, every weekend.

This isn’t the best photo I’ve taken, or even my favorite, but I feel that it’s one that best represents how it felt to be there. When I look at this picture, I can still hear the student section harassing the visiting goalie, I can smell the beer constantly being spilled on the concrete steps and I can feel the floor shaking under thousands of fans’ feet.

Working on my hockey beat was the most rewarding experience that I’ve had since coming to UMass. It taught me so much about being a photojournalist, and inspired me to get better at what I do. I would give almost anything to have it back.”

Nina Walat, Photo Editor and Graphic Editor

Juniors

March 13, 2020

Joey Lorant – Morrill Science Center

“I took this picture the night before we were sent home for what I thought would only be a month or two. This is the face of someone naïvely optimistic, who left all their stuff in their dorm because there was no way we wouldn’t be returning. It’s been a year… even my puns can’t save me now.

Zoom is no longer a punchline.”

Joey Lorant, Graphic Editor

March 11, 2020

Ana Pietrewicz – Former Collegian Office

“This was our last day in the Collegian office, the day it was announced campus would be closing. Collegian staff went straight to the office to track down stories and break news. We also spent a lot of dining dollars on cake and soda, as you can see.”

Ana Pietrewicz – Campus Center

“I think this photo captures the chaos we were all feeling. McKenna Premus, assistant social media editor for the Collegian, is one of my friends who was running around campus with me that day. Here she is with her Harvest loot and camera, headed down the escalator to the office.”

Ana Pietrewicz – Haigis Mall

“Pretty much immediately after it was announced that we were being sent home, a few friends and I wanted to walk around campus with our cameras and capture student reactions in the moment. This was by Haigis Mall. People were packing up to leave and calling shuttles, and it felt pretty surreal.”

Ana Pietrewicz – Harvest

“Blue Wall was insane that day because people were trying to spend their last dining dollars. This was at Harvest. The shelves were empty within hours, and people were even buying crates of drinks from the back of the store.”

Ana Pietrewicz, Assistant Op/Ed Editor

March 13, 2020

“I remember sitting in my dorm room on the fourth floor of Maple in the Honors College watching students’ parents pulling up to the dorms and helping their kids pack their cars. My mom called me telling me she and my dad would drive to campus in a couple of days to help me move out. When I told her what I was watching, she told me to hang up, grab my camera and start taking pictures.

“This is history, McKenna, you need to capture this,” my mom said.

I ran downstairs to the lobby where empty moving bins were lined up, and started photographing and interviewing students and their families as they packed their cars.”

March 13, 2020

Mckenna Premus – Commonwealth Honors College

“This photo holds so much meaning to me, evoking bittersweet feelings of nostalgia, sadness and just utter disbelief at how much the world changed in the following months after it was taken. I remember sitting at my desk in my dorm room in my empty suite, as all of my roommates had already moved out. I had spent the last couple of hours taking photos and interviewing students and their families as they packed their cars, and I was working on an article with other Daily Collegian staff about the University’s decision to send students home. I remember looking up from my laptop at yet another beautiful UMass sunset, and decided to take this picture to capture the moment, anxious about what was to come and unsure as to when I’d see another.”

March 14, 2020

“The day before I moved out, I walked around campus and decided to take one last visit to the Daily Collegian office before we moved into the new Student Union building. It was pretty quiet and the lights were mostly off, and it was hard to believe that just a day or two earlier we were all sitting in the office on a typical desk night, writing, editing and laughing. That being said, we’ve proven over this past year that we don’t need a physical office to continue to provide quality journalism to the UMass community.”

Mckenna Premus, Assistant Social Media Editor

March 10, 2020

Eva Trainer – Garber Field

“This photo was taken on March 10, 2020, at Garber Field, one day before UMass announced that campus would be closing. I remember the hours leading up to this game; there was a  surreal feeling buzzing around campus. Universities were announcing their closing, and many of us were unsure where this news would leave us. Close to a year later, our lives have changed drastically from what seemed like such a simplistic time. ”

Eva Trainer, Assistant Photo Editor

March 11, 2020

Max Zeff – Patterson Hall

“I took this picture of my car right after I packed it with nearly everything in my dorm. This was right after UMass told us we were being sent home. I remember not knowing how long I would be home for, so I actually left a good amount of belongings in my dorm room. I naïvely thought I would be back in, at most, a month, so I left plants and other stuff that I would eventually be able to pick up in the late summer. My plants withered and some food I left behind rotted. Looking back on this photo, I had no idea I’d be leaving behind any remnants of a normal college experience.

At the time I didn’t know what to make of coronavirus. I didn’t know this was the last time I’d walk in a public space without a mask for the next year. I didn’t know this would be the start of my quarantine from the world, and in a way, I’m glad I didn’t know. I think it would’ve been too hard to process that all at once.”

Max Zeff, Podcast Editor and Op/Ed Assistant Editor

March 17, 2020

Matt Berg / Daily Collegian

“During the spring semester, I was living with four strangers in a tiny apartment in Boston while doing a co-op. Luckily, I avoided the transition to remote classes and the stress that came with the hectic move-out process. Unluckily, I was living in a city with some strangers as it turned into a ghost town.

To pass my time, I would walk around and explore as much as I could, observing the drastic changes in the cityscape as restaurants closed, storefronts shuttered and people began to stay home out of fear. It was hardly what I was expecting when I moved to the city, but I was simultaneously thrilled — as a journalist, I knew I was witnessing a major historical event unfolding before my eyes.

This photo was taken on assignment just days after my newsroom was sent home for good. It encapsulates the feelings of the first days of the pandemic: pessimistic and negative, yet hopeful that things would get better in time. Nearly a year later, I wonder if this shop has reopened, or if the ‘apocalypse’ has taken a lethal toll…”

— Matt Berg, Managing Editor

Sophomores

March 9, 2020

Lynus Erickson – Campus Center

“This photo was taken March 9, 2020 at the Campus Center, a day or two before we discovered that we were being sent home. It holds nostalgia for me for sunny days spent outside, and not worrying who is okay to hang out with or socially distancing with others. These days it is rare to even see a group greater than four walking together or hanging out together, so this photo offers a stark reminder of what life on campus used to be like.”

Lynus Erickson, Assistant Photo Editor

March 2, 2020

Vera Gold – Campus Pond

“The last traces of winter were finally disappearing and many people (and ducks) were outside enjoying the sunshine and warmer temperatures. It was just a typical afternoon on campus as I walked to one of my classes at the ILC. The terms ‘in-person classes’ and ‘remote learning’ did not exist to me. Little did I know that this would be one of the last times that I would walk by this familiar pond on my way to attend a lecture in a room full of classmates.”

Vera Gold, Assistant Social Media Editor
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