By Jada Carter, Journalism Student
The pandemic has affected millions of people globally. The world was shut down for a few months straight and it is crazy to think that we are approaching two years since that happened. The effects of Covid-19 are still prominent today. Many people have lost their jobs and are still finding a new career. Professional athletes have to deal with the politics of the vaccine and drastic schedule changes. Our young generation should not have to grow up in a pandemic.
Of course, our mask mandate was just lifted at Freedom High School. It is optional for everyone, including teachers. As we return to some normalcy, it is easily forgotten how bad Covid-19 used to be. What was school like when the pandemic first started?
No school was ready for all the problems Covid-19 brought. Nobody in general was really ready for it. It would be hard for anyone to go from normalcy to complete disaster. Schools around the world were shut down one after the other, and I know it was not just me who hated “the new normal” in which school was taught. “I switched to completely online classes at the end of December in 2020. I didn’t like the Hybrid system or being completely online. It made my grades worse than the year before which were straight A’s. It made it easier for me to procrastinate and it didn’t feel like I was learning, just doing work,” said Juliet Senick, a senior at Freedom High School. She is not alone when it comes to grades dropping drastically. It is hard to teach yourself something you know nothing about. On top of that, there is also the toll that takes on students mentally.
As of 2020, 45 percent of high school students have reported feelings of stress. On a 10-point scale, the average rating was a 5.8, which is two points higher than the normal rating (Eira, Astrid. Finances Online, 2022). A lot of high school students these days have existing mental health problems whether it is school-related or not. Having such a drastic change in the way the world works has affected the minds of every student, one way or another. Some of the psychological challenges that today’s students face are changes in appetite and energy and feelings of anger, sadness, worry and frustration. From experience, I can say that most of that stems from suddenly being stuck at home and closed off from the outside world. Frustration because Zoom meetings and masks are annoying. Changes in appetite because why eat when you do not need energy for anything? It is also hard to try and go back to normal after being a certain way for so long. For example, social interactions are not the same anymore.
Imagine going from having friends over everyday to not being able to see anyone outside your family at all. That is what it was like for the world in the beginning of 2020. Personally, it got to the point where I was begging my mom to go to the grocery store. Social interaction is a big part of human growth. Lack of interaction between people can have negative impacts on our minds and the way we think. That was definitely the case for junior Candy Florentino. “I believe the pandemic had a significant psychological and social impact on me. It was difficult for me to engage in many social interactions because I was so used to being at home alone. Despite the fact that I am an extrovert, it turned me into an introvert.” It is hard to remain an extrovert when Covid-19 keeps us inside against our will.
I think it is safe to say that I speak for everyone when I say that the pandemic has affected us in some way, shape or form. For high school students, it affected us in lots of ways. Maybe some students were affected positively but the majority were affected negatively. It is hard to get your life back on track when it was unwillingly derailed. Grades suffered and friendships were challenged. Masks were to be worn by all students and teachers, no matter how much they hated them. But masks are no longer mandatory, allowing students to feel like they have more of a choice. Most high schools are returning to normal, much like ours, and it is nice to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, hopefully leaving this pandemic behind us.