COVID-19: A Life Changing Experience

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us to handle. Not only did it change education, but it also changed how we live our daily lives. With those changes, students are now forced to adapt to radically different norms.

COVID-19 has shut down schools, cut off social interaction, and cancelled athletic and holiday activities. What next? | Graphic by Cate Roser ’21/Staff

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for all of us to handle. Not only did it change education, but it also changed how we live our daily lives. With the recent spike in the number of COVID-19 cases, restaurants all over Philadelphia have been ordered to switch to strictly takeout food with limited outdoor seating, and many businesses that were in the process of reopening are now shutting down. In addition, all winter sports in Pennsylvania have been canceled until January 4, and LM made the appropriate switch back to all virtual learning. While the big parts of our lives have changed drastically, the smaller parts of our lives have changed even more. Not only have our social lives been diminished, but those exciting plans we looked forward to like driving to a sports game or movie with friends are gone. In addition, family gatherings for the holidays are cancelled. 

Ever since our initial quarantine, I discovered that I take many basic things in life for granted. For example, we typically do not think of social interactions as a big deal, but once that was taken away we realized how crucial social interaction is for us to feel normal. In addition, this pandemic took away our ability to make travel plans, not only for out-of-country travel, but also for in-country travel. In fact, I was supposed to travel to Spain last summer with a school group; however, it was canceled. But probably the biggest effect that the COVID-19 pandemic had on our lives is a change in education. While the abrupt switch to virtual learning made learning harder for many students, part of that difficulty was balanced out by the later, 9 a.m. start time of the total virtual schedule and the long breaks between classes.

The biggest positive effects that the virtual schedule has on both students and teachers is the later school start time and the half hour breaks between classes. Being able to wake up at a relatively normal time, both students and teachers get the proper sleep they need and are able to adapt to a normal sleep wake schedule. The addition of a 9 a.m. start time not only motivates people, but it also helps to decrease sleep deprivation. Not only that, but the half hour breaks between classes also do a very good job at improving mental health and reducing stress levels on students.

While the spring of last year was a very drastic change from in-person to virtual learning, this year LM made the transition from hybrid to virtual somewhat smoother. Switching back to virtual has been tough for many due to the fact that for many students it is difficult to learn just in front of a computer screen. In addition, virtual learning makes it much harder for students to form a solid connection with their teachers. Teachers rely on in-person learning to figure out how their students learn best. While returning back to a hybrid schedule may make this easier for teachers, it could be ironically terrible for the social life of many students. This is because of the alphabetical split of students. What this does is it excludes friends with last names beginning with letters from opposite sides of the alphabet. I can say with personal experience that this has happened to me and it isn’t fun.

An additional drawback of virtual learning this year is the cancellation of sports. In fact, since the decision was made by Governor Tom Wolf, it affects the whole state rather than just the school district. This is disappointing especially for the swim team since only tryouts occured, and the seniors for this year did not even get the chance yet to swim. Even when sports are allowed to continue, they will not be the same as pre-COVID sports due to the fact that winter sports teams are required to propose new health and safety plans. In addition to the cancelation of swim team as well as other winter sports, during the water polo season, the team could not even get in the pool during the fall. This, while making practice more challenging for the captains to run, did end up bringing the team closer together. 

So far, this pandemic has put stress and anxiety on all of us. With school being all virtual, limited social interaction, and winter sports and holiday gatherings canceled, this year has been quite the bummer for many people. However, with the new Pfizer vaccine rolling out to the public, we can hope for a brighter future.