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Students Reflect on One Year Anniversary of the Pandemic

Junior Grace Cook stays safe in school by wearing her mask. (Courtesy Photo)

By Hayley Rea--Eagle Assistant Editor

Picture this: It’s March 2020. Covid is growing and spreading, coming closer to campus. Governor Ralph Northam has issued a stay at home order and school is virtual.

Now, fast forward to today. It’s a year later, and this pandemic is still running rampant through our community and affecting students and faculty alike.

“This past year has affected my work ethic as well as my feelings, as I’ve gone kind of into a Covid depression,” junior Grace Cook explained.

When school was first shut down last March, many people didn’t expect their school lives to end up this way.

“The initial shut down of schools and resulting quarantine last spring was a shock to the system in regards to experiencing such a drastic change to life,” school psychologist Christina Gibson said.

The start of the Covid spread brought with it a lot of fear and worry, as it was new and unknown.

“I thought nothing of [Covid] at first, then as more information got passed around, I started to fear contracting the virus,” Cook said.

Some people were excited to hear about the shutdown for a multitude of reasons, but many of those feelings quickly changed as the new reality set in.

“For me personally, I was ecstatic when [Covid] first happened, as I was stuck in quarantine with my friends and a new game that we had been waiting years for had just come out. As the isolation set in, however, it became less and less fun--especially considering I play music a lot and all of my shows, venues, and festivals were cancelled,” senior Stewart Werner commented.

As our school community witnesses the passing of a year since the initial Covid shutdown, many people have begun reflecting on the obstacles that the pandemic presented at first.

Faculty from Student Services gather safely for breast cancer awareness. (Courtesy Photo)

“For my role here at school, quite a bit changed. First, not being able to see students face to face initially was a big adjustment for me,” Samantha Strong, a social worker on campus, replied. “A lot of what I do centers around relationships and school engagement with students, and Covid presented some obstacles. For example, our home visits looked very different, making sure to stand on porches or sidewalks and not going into homes. Speaking with students experiencing mental health concerns over the phone meant we couldn't gauge their body language.”

Since the beginning of the pandemic, much has changed, as people have learned and adapted to its complications.

“At first, everyone was worried about getting sick, but now not so much. It’s mainly only about half the people worrying about stopping the spread, as before it was everyone,” junior Ashleigh Dillon explained.

However, a few things have stayed the same as well.

“The only things I can think of that have stayed the same would have to be logistical things such as the enforcement of mask-wearing and hand sanitizing,” Werner said.

The effects of Covid have heavily affected the relationship between faculty and students, as people haven’t been on campus as much yet for the 2020-2021 school year.

School psychologist Christina Gibson supports breast cancer awareness during the pandemic. (Courtesy Photo)

“Since the shutdown last March, I have seen students less face to face. While I have seen students for testing purposes, there have been less opportunities for them to seek me out in person due to the virtual learning and hybrid models,” Gibson replied. “I worry that many of our students have experienced trauma being at home over the past year or are feeling anxious and depressed due to the loss of normalcy and lack of social interaction. Many students are struggling with the virtual learning/hybrid format. The teenage brain is not necessarily developed enough to manage organization, planning and initiation of tasks independently and therefore many of our students get behind.”

In the past year, the pandemic has not only affected school as a whole, but also sports and group gatherings specifically.

“It’s definitely affected me with sports. It got our school season shut down last year, and [being] out of school, we couldn’t play for a few months in the summer. Now we have a mask mandate for both teams to be able to play,” Dillon commented about the softball team.

There have also been a great deal of effects from the quarantine as a result of the virus. According to a study by The Scientist Magazine, both men and women have “experienced above average decline in memory function” due to isolatory circumstances.

For some students during the Covid isolation period, these types of long-term issues have been the case.

“Since this all started, my memory has progressively gotten worse,” Cook elaborated.

In the midst of all the inconsistency, predictions for the coming years have been made based on the current pandemic guidelines.

“By next March, I’d say that the high school will most likely be extremely close to if not fully back into a full-week schedule. Things will certainly be different, however, as certain policies will probably stay the same such as the mandate on masks,” Werner predicted.

Throughout the past year with Covid, most people have found themselves learning as they go along. The pandemic has brought with it a great deal of uncertainty, but also some personal growth.

“One thing that Covid has taught me is to take each day as it comes,” Gibson concluded.

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