A Year to Remember: A Look Back at COVID
Joan Marie Walsh ‘21 and Lane Lambeth ‘21
“Dear US Students, Please join me in the Gym for a brief US Student Meeting at the end of lunch today at 12:10 pm. I want to give you an update about our school operations moving forward.”
Nobody was quite sure what this was for. The word “Coronavirus” had slightly been on our radars, but seemed like any other virus that probably wouldn’t affect the United States. Everyone sat anxiously in the gym waiting to hear Mr. Mallet’s news, and little did any of us know, this announcement that we thought would simply extend our spring break really became the last time we’d be gathered as a community for a year.
Before we knew it, staying home quickly became our new reality. Lockdown consisted of school every day from home, limited to no social interaction, TikTok trends, and lots of family time. Online school was held from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm on Google Meet video. Learning new material during online school wasn't just hard for the students, but for the teachers as well. After about a month on Google Meet, the school made a decision to switch online classes to the application Zoom. Zoom was an upgraded version of Google Meet, allowing teachers to create breakout rooms, share their screens, and so much more. This was definitely an upgrade for the students as well.
When asked about the switch to Zoom, Mr. Dodds added, “I think it was a perfect opportunity to practice what we preach. We talk to you as students all the time about being flexible, adaptive, and being hardworking and resilient.” He shared that although it’s important to be positive, it is valid to miss our old school lives. Mr. Dodds shared that on behalf of all the faculty, that being in person and making those connections with students is the best part of their job. However, “Zoom is challenging, but not impossible,” and Mr. Dodds “encourages everybody to focus on opportunities and not just challenges.”
In response to the students struggling with hours of what seemed like neverending hours on Zoom, our administrators worked hard to incorporate a change. They came up with a schedule change, known as the “Wednesday schedule.” The Wednesday schedule allowed students to have asynchronous classes, granting them fewer hours on Zoom. Surveys were sent out to get feedback regarding the new Wednesday schedule and produced nothing but positive responses. SSSAS students loved how it gave them a break from their computer screen, asynchronous work, and a day with no Zoom.
Looking back on this past year, our community voiced the extent to which they didn't expect Covid would change our lives. Our head of school, Mrs. Adams, shared that she would have “never guessed it would have been a year.” She explained that the faculty and staff had it on their radar, however never really took a deep dive into it until things got worse.
Similarly, Director of Health Services, Dr. Stanton, had the same views. She shared how she never expected it to be as bad as it came to be. She vividly remembers herself sitting in the training room telling herself just to pack up a few things because she knew it wouldn't be too long. However, in a blink of an eye, our everyday lives changed just like that.
Nationally, Covid-19 has recorded over 120 million cases and 2.65 million deaths across our world. However, several data sources state that there has been a sufficient decline in cases ever since vaccines were approved. As of March 13, 2021, 107 million doses have gone out, and 37.5 million people have been fully vaccinated. That leaves the US to have 11.41% of its population vaccinated. These data statistics continue to make our world better slowly but surely, one step at a time. Nonetheless, it is evident to say Covid-19 has had a bizarre yet paranoia impact on our society. On March 11, President Biden addressed the country regarding the pandemic to recognize a year since it shook all our lives. He expressed that we all lost something and it was “A collective suffering. A collective sacrifice. A year filled with the loss of life — and the loss of living for all of us. But, in the loss, we saw how much there was to gain in appreciation, respect and gratitude.”
Mrs. Adams reflected on what she missed most about our lives before the Coronavirus. She “loves a spring afternoon when students are sitting in CPAC playing an instrument or preparing for a play, or students are on the athletic fields. There's this energetic buzz, and kids are just hanging out and having fun with each other, not worrying about life. That's what I miss, and we’re starting to see that again.”A sense of normalcy has finally reached our campus, and despite the year we’ve had, we’ve come out stronger in the end.
There are not enough “thank you’s” possible to express the student body’s gratitude for our administration. 2020 surprised not only our whole nation but also our community. As a school, we were thrown many challenges, but the administration and staff are the reason for our strength. From schedule changes to event planning to online classes and campus life, they have done everything to help the student body stay happy. A huge kudos to every faculty and staff member in our SSSAS community. Lastly, Mrs. Adams shared how our community set and reached their goal they had set in the beginning, “together we wanted to come out stronger as a community, and I think we can all agree, St Stephen’s and St. Agnes School has become way more than just St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes School.”