Navigating Highschool During a Pandemic
By: Lily Bertles'22
“In normal times I would obviously prefer in-person school, but right now I prefer virtual because I get nervous and I don’t want to get sick,” says junior Eliza Young. “I prefer online right now because it just feels safer, and I can still get all the work done without exposing myself to Covid.” Eliza goes on to explain that her family has been doing a great job at quarantining and social distancing since March. Whenever she hangs out with her friends she social distances and wears a mask “90% of the time.” The only place where she sees people outside of her immediate family indoors is her grandparents’ house. She continues saying, “Not to call anyone out, but I know that there are groups of people in the school who do not take covid as seriously, possibly not wearing masks and likely being inside.”
A survey sent out to all upper school students showed that many students have different opinions about the hybrid schedule than Eliza. Out of the 105 student responses, 49 said they prefer in-person school, 23 prefer distance learning, and the remaining 33 students said they prefer the hybrid schedule. Comparatively when asked if they had become more lenient with their covid precautions since March, 29 students said that they hadn’t, 33 said that they had, and the other 43 students answered that they were “somewhat” more lenient. The students who answered “yes” or “somewhat” to the previous question were then asked how they have become more lenient. The answers ranged from, “ (I) Take off mask when I can. I don't really care who I'm around. The only thing I do is when I am running outside I will give other people space if they are running towards me so they aren't worried,” to, “(I) Used to wear gloves to store not anymore though.” “I used to be in strict lockdown but recently I’ve hung out with friends with masks on. Besides that I’ve taken it pretty seriously,” explains Sophomore Giorgio Corica. Giorgio’s response seems to mirror what the survey takers said; most students are now seeing friends but are still following social distancing guidelines.
Being able to attend school in person is a privilege that many students from other schools don’t get to enjoy. The reason that this is possible for the Saints community is because we have a small student body and all have to abide by social distancing regulations. School is still far from normal, with many beloved school events like Homecoming and Sleepy Thompson being cancelled. “In terms of handling [the pandemic] I think the teachers and administrators are doing a really good job,” says senior Olivia Duvall, “There was a forum sent to senior parents to gauge what the most important events to senior students were, and I think the faculty has done a really good job of making sure that everything that the seniors need to happen, does happen but with adjustments. In terms of safeness, I think that all the protocols that we’re following have definitely made it so that we can continue going to school.”
My experience with Covid: While collecting data from the survey I sent out, one response really stood out to me. “I won't spend my highschool life hiding from something that has an exceptionally high survival rate especially in teens,” answered one of the survey takers when asked how they had become more lenient with their covid precautions. I would like to preface that I completely understand why they don’t want to waste their high school life and why the coronavirus may seem unimportant to them. It is true that young people are generally less likely to die from the coronavirus, though we can still suffer its symptoms and carry it asymptomatically, potentially spreading it to people who are at risk. As someone who had the virus back in March, I can tell you just how terrible the symptoms can be and how easily the virus can spread. Only a week after lockdown my family contracted the virus. This was when little was known about the coronavirus. My dad was the first to get sick and then my mom and I shortly after. At first it seemed like a standard cold: runny nose, sore throat, coughing etc. Then we began to have fevers, loss of taste and smell, and respiratory issues. My dad recovered in only a few days and my younger brother was never sick at all. My mom and I had the worst of it. She couldn’t taste or smell anything for a little over two weeks and I had such bad respiratory issues that I ended up in the hospital for a night. At the hospital they didn’t have any covid tests so they tested me for every other ailment with similar symptoms, all of which I tested negative for. I went to the hospital because while watching a movie with my family my hands began shaking uncontrollably as I was gasping for breath. My fingers and cheeks turned purple and I felt dizzy, nauseous, and above all else, scared. I had only heard horror stories of covid patients checking into hospitals and never coming back out. Luckily I only stayed at the hospital for several hours and felt significantly better when I returned home. I was sick for another week after that, mainly suffering from extreme fatigue, back pain, chest pain, a cough, and shortness of breath. The week and a half that I had covid felt painfully long and never ending. While now I am back to my normal and healthy self, it took a long time for my lungs to fully recover. I’m not trying to scare anyone by sharing my covid story. I just think there is a lot of misinformation about what it's truly like to have the coronavirus.
It has been approximately nine months since we all went into quarantine on March 13th, 2020. No one knew how much the Covid-19 pandemic would affect our day-to-day lives. What we consider “normal” today would seem dystopian to our pre-quarantine selfs. The new hybrid schedule is vastly different from what school was like a year ago. We have to abide by certain safety measures in order to even attend school. Covid precautions like standing six feet apart, wiping down desks, and wearing masks are small but essential tasks that allow us to physically go to school