By Marie Saavedra

CHICAGO (CBS) — Students at the University of Illinois at Chicago have been documenting every day of the COVID-19 pandemic with images of how the coronavirus has affected our lives.

There are pictures, movies, writings and recorded voices. It can be hard for us who may be dealing with the deep grief of loss or daily stress caused by COVID-19 to think about looking back at our lives this time last year. But you likely captured that moment history, too.

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With the announcement from the World Health Organization that COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic, everything changed. Though the world had no idea how much yet.

CBS 2’s Marie Saavedra looked back in her photos from that first week of the pandemic and found a co-worker posted popular song choruses in the bathrooms to sing along and wash our hands for 20 seconds.

CBS 2’s Marissa Parra had her passport all ready for a trip, and Investigative producer Carol Thompson captured shelves cleared of toilet paper. These may feel silly now. But they are history.

“Really the goal is down the road thinking about what people are going to want to see from this moment,” said Leanna Barcelona, a University of Illinois Chicago Archivist working with the Six Feet Apart project.

It is collecting reflections of the pandemic from across campus, including everything from photos of it empty to voice notes from students.

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“Something that’s really been on my mind is the realization that life is never going to return back to normal,” said UIC freshman Louis Lafon.

With time, the submissions have changed from shocked to more resigned.

“Now we’re seeing a little bit more about how people have adapted, how it’s become part of their regular life,” said Barcelona. 

But all of it holds historical value — including what you have on your camera roll! A year out, it’s already fascinating to see what little we knew.

“What the pandemic meant for us a year ago is a little bit different than what it means to us today and what it’ll mean to us 10 years from now,” Barcelona said. 

Imagine how we’ll feel to see this collection in the future.

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UIC still doesn’t know what it will do with this collection — if it will be just used for research, live online or in some kind of exhibit you can visit in person. Some of these reflections are incredibly personal, and the university wants to be conscious of that in its decision.

Marie Saavedra