It would be an understatement to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world. It has changed the way we interact, work, and learn as social distancing guidelines cause us to have a more virtual experience. As students, it is likely that many of us were most impacted by the shift from physical school to a virtual classroom. However, we are not alone. It is reported that over 1.2 billion children around the world have switched to online classrooms. As a result, learning and teaching as we know it has changed dramatically. We were sent home in March of 2020, believing that we would be out of school for a few weeks at most; nobody could’ve predicted how the remainder of the year would play out. We switched to zoom to continue learning, prepared for the very first online AP exams, and missed out on countless student activities. Let’s take a look at how MSO has changed us all.
Besides education, school is the center of our social lives. It is a place where we socialize and express ourselves, and it offers us an opportunity to interact with our friends daily. However, the switch to MSO has caused us to feel lonely, unmotivated or discouraged. It has barred students from making new friendships, some grew closer with their already existing friendships, while others lost contact with their friends. Through the course of the pandemic, multiple studies were conducted amongst students who continued their education online. These have shown that social isolation can cause higher rates of negative outcomes for the mental and physical health of individuals. Other studies have found that face-to-face interactions can help reduce depression and anxiety. These results were reflected in our own student body. In a survey conducted by the Caduceus Times, one student claimed, “my friends went online and I kinda felt lonely, I wasn’t comfortable so I decided to go online.” This new environment of learning has caused students to face a solitude like never before when they’re learning.
Increased Stress & Anxiety
This school year has also caused incredible levels of stress amongst students. Across the nation, students have reported higher stress levels with the transition to online learning, citing at-home distractions, rigid deadlines, and the national political climate as contributors. I spoke with senior Daniela Veron, who claimed,”It’s much more difficult to even speak to other people now. I’ve grown so used to being alone that I didn’t realize how anxious I’d get when a teacher would call on me.” The lack of social contact has caused students to have more difficulties in daily interactions; there is a newfound shyness or insecurities that students face. Some were afraid to speak up in class or felt that the main priority were the students who attended school physically. With one of our students sharing, “… I would often feel a sense of isolation when in the presence of the teacher and physical kids.”. Whereas the students who attended school physically had to deal with an altered learning environment: masks at all times, eating at different tables, and mandatory quarantines when a peer caught COVID. Students who responded to our survey said that the fear of catching COVID followed them daily.
New Sense of Responsibility As the pandemic affected the daily lives of our families, students were appointed to help out. Many took charge in cleaning the house or taking care of their younger siblings, seeing as they were home more often. They would have to help their younger siblings with logging on to attend school, helping them with homework, and caring for them. This helped them set up routines in their lives and attain a new sense of responsibility that would reflect in their school work as well. One student said, “Doing school online has taught me the importance of self-management and being responsible. Specifically, with all the asynchronous work my teachers assigned me, I needed to have due diligence and complete the assignments in a timely manner.”
Overall, this school year was unprecedented and both students and teachers alike did their best to overcome the difficulties. Whether they had lost their motivation to teach or learn, they took it into their own hands to get their life back on track. However, with vaccines rolling out the future looks much brighter and hopefully sabers will be able to walk through our school’s door again. Students were able to find the silver lining in a dark situation, we were able to deal with an incredible amount of stress in this school year. We came out of this year as different people and may we continue to triumph despite the obstacles we will face!