SMCCCD Students Celebrate Birthdays Amid Shelter-In-Place Ordinance

April 13, 2020

How did you celebrate your birthday?

This was the question asked to SMCCCD students, who had no choice but to celebrate their special day sheltering in place to prevent the transmission of COVID-19.

Newlywed and medical billing specialist student Kaylee Juarez Arias from Canada College didn’t get to do her plan that she had with her husband, which was to host their wedding reception in their apartment after their December 2019 wedding. The plan was to hold the event the same day as her 29th birthday, which was on April 1.


Photo via Kaylee Juarez Arias
A selfie of Kaylee Juarez Arias and her husband taken in Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Resort and Casino.


“We were about to send out the invitations in early March, but we both started to see how the pandemic was taking control over our lives,” Arias said. “We decided to call off everything, and just see how this would evolve.”

“Not much later, cities started to ban gatherings and then we decided not to even try to call people for my birthday – our wedding reception,” she followed.

Arias ended up celebrating her birthday with her husband and relative, enjoying each other’s company while savoring Mexican and Indian food they had prepared.

Middle College student Joanne Leung, from Skyline, was dismayed over the unpleasant surprise that ruined her 18th birthday celebration.


Photo via Joanne Leung
Joanne Leung at her house after shelter-in-place was issued in light of COVID-19.

“I do understand that this quarantine is necessary if we want to slow the spread of the virus, but this 18th birthday was very special to me and I want to have a memorable and happy celebration,” said by Leung, a psychology student.

Leung, whose birthday was on April 7, planned to spend the weekend before her birthday with her boyfriend and celebrate the actual occasion at school with her friends then have a family dinner afterwards.

“My celebration was very different from what I planned because I can’t celebrate my birthday with other people beside my family.” Leung said. “And it was shortened from a full day celebration into a celebration dinner.”

For her birthday wish, she hoped that the pandemic would end soon.

“It has been affecting many people’s lives regardless of getting infected or not,” Leung added. 

For Robert Veloya, a computer science student from Skyline College, what he enjoyed most on his 19th birthday was the gathering and good food.

“My birthday was celebrated with a simple selection of food with people at home. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right?” said by Veloya, who celebrated his birthday on April 4.

He initially planned to throw a party with his friends in San Bruno, however, the plan was dismantled following the shelter-in-place ordinance.

“Being at home and being at a hotel party seems different, but I don’t mind as I get to spend time with family,” he said.

Similarly, cosmetology student Kaitlyn Diaz from Skyline College also planned to throw a house party on April 13 for her 20th birthday, if only everything went smooth and normal.


Photo via Kaitlyn Diaz
Kaitlyn Diaz beaming a smile while taking a selfie.

“Originally I was going to rent a nice Airbnb in the city and throw a typical house party,” Diaz said.

Diaz expressed how some things need to be done as part of everyone’s sacrifice in facing the global threat.

“Although I am pretty disappointed that I can’t even link up with family for dinner, I do recognize the seriousness of this pandemic,” Diaz said.

She also conveyed that everyone’s sacrifices will be fruitful once everyone makes it through the quarantine.

“I know some of us had really cool things planned, and it really sucks being confined to our homes on the one day of the year that belongs to you,” Diaz said. “But waiting just a little bit longer will make it feel 10 times more worth it. “

“We can always throw a HUGE a** party for all the missed birthdays post-quarantine,” she followed.

With the COVID-19 transcending into a global trend, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a shelter-in-place order March 19, suspending all nonessential activities to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Following this ordinance, the San Mateo County Community College District has suspended all face-to-face instruction and transitioned the rest of the spring 2020 classes online.

Additionally, a resolution made by the board of trustees, in consultation with the District Academic Senate, orders the suspension of all face-to-face instruction for sessions done during the summer term this year.

In a letter written by Michael Claire, the school district’s interim chancellor, he expressed that the board is “[hoping] for the best, but [preparing] for the worst” in approaching the fall semester.

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