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The toll social distancing has taken on high schoolers

On a typical day, high schoolers wake up before the sun rises, brush their teeth, make their commute to school, and interact with their teachers and peers. But nowadays, the world is anything but typical. As juniors scramble to make sure they maintain their academic grit and as seniors mourn the losses of quintessential high school experiences like graduation and prom, schools are devising ways to make sure everything remains as normal as possible. 

Many schools are switching to remote learning where students do, what would have been, classwork and homework at home while communicating with teachers via online meetings. Students describe this transition of doing nothing to having work hours on end as a “shock” but “didn’t mind because [they] had nothing else to do at home.” Although schools are trying to normalize e-learning, conflicts are inevitable; nonetheless, schools are putting their best foot forward to make sure students are treated equitably. 

For students who don’t have electronic devices at home or must share devices with other household members, schools are offering laptop checkouts to ensure that they have adequate exposure to school material. In addition, teachers are becoming more lenient with grading as some are offering free points in quiz/test categories while others are ensuring that students who do have A’s will receive an A for the rest of the semester. 

Right as juniors were about to head into the peak of testing season with the March SAT, April ACT, and May AP exams, schools and testing centers decided to shut their doors in order to prevent the spread of the virus; however, some are trying to look at the glass half full, saying there is more time to study and grow. As at home testing is still up in the air, all juniors know for now is that testing dynamics are going to be just a bit different from past years. 

Seniors, although sad about not being with their friends, are more upset about not living out moments they longed for since freshman year. One senior reflects, “Some random day in class that I barely remember was the last day of school ever.” When putting things into perspective, it can be frustrating: some seniors already started preparing for prom, others anticipated on decision day with their friends, and everyone envisioned walking down the aisle as their last goodbye. Although many may undermine the importance of issues seniors are coming to terms with, it is also important to recognize and celebrate the years they have put into their grades, extracurriculars, and relationships.

As health officials condemn public gatherings, many events for spring sports have been cancelled in addition to schooling. This puts many seniors at a loss especially if they were hoping to set a personal record in their last race, score their last goal in a match, or throw their last pitch in a game. In addition to spring sports, fall sports are also at stake as it’s not certain when things will return back to normal. Many fall sports start conditioning/training in August and after months without efficient training, it’s going to be a long road for some athletes. 

During these dire times, it’s the small things we start to appreciate. School, once a place we dreaded, is now something we desperately want back. As the 2019-2020 school year ends with a memorable bang, students can’t wait to return to normalcy.

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