The pandemic: Reflections of a year gone by

The Jefferson community shares the standout moments and the biggest changes over these challenging past 12 months


Lily Walters

A mask lies on the floor in an empty Nobel Commons. After FCPS announced the closure of all schools, Jefferson remained empty for nearly a year before students began to return.

By Anuj Khemka, Annika Duneja, Vikram Achuthan, and tjTODAY staff

3:55 p.m. March 12, 2020. 

Jefferson principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus holds her cell phone in one hand as she speaks with the assistant superintendent for Region 2 of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS), Dr. Fabio Zuluaga.

In her other hand, Bonitatibus holds the microphone connected to the school’s PA system as she relays what Zuluaga just told her: FCPS will be open on Friday, March 13.

The statement didn’t hold true for long.

A few hours later, during the intermission of the first performance of Jefferson’s spring musical, Newsies, a notification from FCPS announced that all schools would now be closed on Friday, March 13, and all activity must cease immediately.

While the show was allowed to finish, the Jefferson building would then remain closed to students for nearly a year. For members of the Jefferson community, March 12 and the days afterward represented the beginning of a year-long period like no other. To reflect on the one-year anniversary of this day, tjTODAY spoke with Jefferson students and teachers to find out the moment they realized COVID-19 would significantly change their life.

This story continues on tjTODAY and was originally published on March 12, 2021.