When Kara Lorimer found out that schools across Scotland were closing to prevent the spread of coronavirus, she felt scared.
The 18-year-old, who has spent the past few weeks balancing her role in a local care home with her final year studies, was concerned about how the “massive change” could disrupt her life.
“Just being cut off like that was really scary to a lot of people I think. That massive change has been quite frightening,” she said.
“It’s not even like we’ll be going back so our last day was just our last day and that was it.
“The ending was so abrupt and sad. I absolutely loved school and most people had really been looking forward to our final event, which was the S6 dance.
“You watch the years above and it just seemed like the best time ever and we never got that.”
Kara, who lives in the Claverhouse area of Dundee, believes she would have struggled had she not been working.
At times, amid the pandemic, she has worked seven days in a row in her job as a social care officer for Turriff House Residential Home.
“I was only in my house for about a week-and-a-half, before I got my current role at the care home – I only started working there at the beginning of lockdown,” she said.
“I started as a domestic and then they wanted me to do a social care officer’s job.
“I’m loving it, it’s so rewarding. It is really difficult though; you have to be more than just a carer for the residents as obviously they’re not seeing their family just now.
“Things have changed a lot. The residents usually have their meals all together in a big hall, but we’re having to stop that just now and keep them in their suites.
“Activities were stopped for a while too and I think a lot of them have been fed up. For some, it’s really difficult for them to process what’s going on and a lot of them don’t understand why their family aren’t coming in.
“You just have to be supportive and try and give them what you can to make them feel better. It’s a difficult time because they’re not really sure of what’s happening so you’ve got to give reassurance.
“We’ve been really fortunate that we’ve not had any positive cases in our care home and it’s just about keeping it that way, being responsible and making sure it doesn’t get in if it can be helped.
“I’ve been working five days a week, over 30 hours a week, so it has been a big change. It’s difficult going from a back shift to an early shift next day, but when I was at school I was there five days a week and usually working two days at the weekend so it’s nice to actually have some days off.
“If I wasn’t working, I think I’d be really, really fed up, especially not seeing my friends or a lot of my family.
“It was my niece’s first birthday during lockdown so we never got to see her, but everyone in my family is safe and we’re all well so that’s the main thing that matters.”
On March 18, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that schools across the country would be closing their doors at the end of that week.
One day later, in an unprecedented move, Education Secretary John Swinney told MSPs at Holyrood that all school exams were to be cancelled.
Kara, who is in the process of completing her studies at Grove Academy, said: “We’ve still had work to do for school in order for our teachers to process our estimated grades.
“The year got cut short and we would have been doing a lot of work so we had to provide them with evidence in order for them to support our grades.
“It has got its challenges but all the teachers have been really responsive and not just there for us for schoolwork but as a really big emotional support as well.
“I was quite fortunate in that I did quite well in my prelims, so I’ve not had as much work to do as other people have. It’s different for every individual and kind of depends on what you’ve done throughout the year.”
Now, as the lockdown restrictions begin to ease and life starts to regain a semblance of normality, Kara is looking ahead to the future.
She has received an unconditional offer to study primary teaching at the University of Dundee in October and has also been offered a sessional contract with the care home, providing shift cover where required.
And, of course, she’s looking forward to finally getting that end-of-year celebration she and her classmates missed.