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How the pandemic disrupted the lives of American students

It's been an incredibly difficult school year for millions of educators and students in America. Some had to put their education on hold and their health at risk. “Disrupted: How COVID-19 Changed Education” is a special from Student Reporting Labs — our youth journalism program for teens. Student reporter Yeonseo Seok from Westview High School in San Diego, California, previews the special.

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  • Amna Nawaz:

    It's been an incredibly difficult school year for millions of educators and students across the country.

    Some teens, like 17-year-old Tiffany Rodriguez from Philadelphia, had to become the family breadwinner, putting their education on hold and their health at risk.

    This story is a part of our special report streaming tomorrow called "Disrupted: How COVID-19 Changed Education" from the "NewsHour" Student Reporting Labs, our youth journalism program for teens.

    The narrator is student reporter Yeonseo Seok from Westview High School in San Diego, California.

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    This school year was a doozy. Things went downhill immediately. Ever since September, everything has just been an uphill climb.

  • Yeonseo Seok:

    Tiffany Rodriguez was out of school for three months this year. At first, her music teacher, Colin Sharp, didn't know why she was absent from their online classes.

  • Colin Sharp:

    When I stopped seeing you log in is when I — obviously, my first concerns started to really set in. So, what was happening in like that first month of school for you?

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    I ended up having to work. And work was a battle. It was a war, because I ended up having to support my family.

    I was the only one in the house that was working at the time. I had to take on a lot of hours, including school hours. So I would be in orchestra, in music class while I was serving smoothies to people.

  • Colin Sharp:

    Right.

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    And it was very frustrating, because working at the same time while being at school, you don't really retain anything.

    And so I would take any hours I could and — because money was short. So I did what I had to do. But then I ended up catching the virus.

  • Yeonseo Seok:

    A week after her diagnosis, Tiffany started to feel better and thought maybe she sailed through it, but then her health went downhill.

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    My doctors almost hospitalized me. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't walk. I couldn't breathe correctly.

  • Colin Sharp:

    Tiffany, you are — I mean, you are all smiles right now, which is fantastic. So that tells me that you are in a much better place.

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    I feel like my last few weeks of having COVID, I really took that time to appreciate who I was and how — what's life going to be like for me, and just take things as it comes, you know, really appreciate the little things and be grateful for what you have had.

    I like who I am now because of this entire experience, this entire situation.

  • Yeonseo Seok:

    Things are better now for Tiffany's family too. She says they are financially stable and she's no longer worried about working all the time.

    She still has lingering fatigue from her bout with COVID, but she was able to come back to her online classes in March and is busy catching up with what she missed.

  • Colin Sharp:

    I know I speak for not just myself, but a lot of the other teachers at our school, when we say we are really, really proud of you.

  • Tiffany Rodriguez:

    I am really hoping that my story can set somebody on the right path or inspire somebody, even, to just, even being pushed down so many times, you can still get back up and get back up even stronger.

  • Amna Nawaz:

    Some incredible stories from some incredible students across the country.

    We hope you will join us. Be sure to tune in on the "NewsHour" Web site or on our YouTube channel. That is tomorrow night for the full program.

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