This story was told by a person incarcerated at Donovan.
Caller: I did have a study room over in the other section that we would go to to try to get away from the dayroom.
However, because of COVID-19, they don’t want us in groups. So all the rooms are, actually, been shut down because of that. So what I do to cope, I do try to meditate. I also do exercise a lot. I’m really health-conscious. And I do watch what I eat. And I also exercise. And that helps me a lot just to cope with what’s going on.
But, regarding my schoolwork, I’m still slacking. I’m not at full capacity like I’m used to. In my cell, where I live at, I live with five other individuals. And these individuals don’t do nothing. And all they do is talk all day. They talk about a bunch of negative stuff. And I’m just like in the middle of this war zone. And I just – that’s why my knowledge has left. I just can’t believe it. They’re just like talking loud. I don’t do my schoolwork in there. I have to come in the dayroom.
Caller: So …
UCI: Have you …
UCI: Oh, no. I was going to say, have you felt like the programs you’ve been a part of, you know, schoolwork and other activities, have you felt those have been negatively impacted because of the pandemic? You know, if you had certain things before. Do you feel like those have been reduced now?
Caller: Well, there’s no more volunteers allowed to come in here. So the college staff cannot come in here no more.
And, also, the other staff that run other groups – for example, I was in Playwrights, where you try to write plays. And they have actors come in and they play them out. They’re like 10-minute plays. And that was a good program for us that have creative minds, in order to write plays. And, at the same time, it was – the program’s set up to where like it helps to become a better person.
You engage in group activities. And, now that that has been taken away, I – it’s been, actually, more difficult. I’m only going to work once a week, on Wednesdays. Because it’s three blocks here. And 23 block goes on Mondays. Wednesdays will be…
And Thursdays will be block 25. But we’ll only go on at – because I work there as a clerk and a tutor.
So only six students at a time, wearing masks, social distancing, and a bit of cleaning. And that has been taken away as of right now because of the purple tier status – if you know what’s going on in California right now.
UCI: Yeah. So you’re down to once a week for work.
That must be quite the change in just the mindset of it. Did they provide any – is there any kind of schedule for how people go back to work, since it’s only once a week? I mean, you know, kind of what are they doing to help?
Caller: No. Well, what they’re doing to help the students where I work at, they’re passing out homework. I’m actually the one that passes it out. And, every two weeks, I pick it up.