On January 20, 2020, the first official case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States. After that, it continued to worsen until schools were forced to shut down and move to online learning. Now that things have calmed down, and we are on our way to recovering, schools are beginning to re-open and allowing students to come back. However, there are many changes and guidelines put into place to try and protect students and keep everyone on campus safe. But what does this mean for seniors who are graduating this year?
There are many different rules, regulations, and guidelines put in place to keep everyone safe. These include students having to wear a mask all throughout the day, as well as students keeping their distance from other students as often as possible and following traffic flow laid out by teachers, staff, and deans. The number of students on campus have also been reduced thanks to the implementation of online schooling. Some students will even be offered the chance to take a free COVID-19 test, paid for by the school.
Many of this year's seniors are not getting the final school year that they always dreamed of having. Senior year is the year that many students get to relax, as they have already met most of their graduation requirements, and can mostly focus on their personal lives, as well as some smaller things such as working and saving up for college. However, this year has proven to be more stressful and hectic than what many students are hoping for due to COVID-19. Due to the cancellation of many events in the last quarter of the 2019-2020 school year, many of the previous juniors (now seniors) are struggling to make up what they missed and trying to catch up anything that was not online.
In a normal year at SCHS, we would have events like homecoming, and more. Because of the current circumstances, however, these are looking very unlikely, as the school is trying to limit as much contact as possible. This means that seniors this year may end up not having the perfect prom that would finish off their high school career. This has led to a sad situation for our seniors this year, event wise, and leads the way for a much more boring, lackluster final year of high school for our seniors. There are also many extra-curricular activities that are being affected. This year in SCHS, there are many clubs that are not available this semester—and depending on how the pandemic continues, maybe the whole year.
Seniors do not only have to worry about high school, but they also must worry about their immediate future. Many colleges are shutting down temporarily, and there is no guarantee that COVID-19 will end any time soon, which means there are still many colleges that are not currently open. Some of this year's seniors were planning on attending these colleges, and now there is no telling when they will re-open. Students who are not planning to go to college are also affected by this as the closure and reduced capacity of these colleges, as well as stores, restaurants, and other working environments, means less opportunities for students to find jobs and sustain themselves, contribute to their family's income, save up for college, or simply provide for themselves.
With all of this in mind, how is the class of 2021 feeling about this situation? Many of this year's seniors feel stressed out not only academically, but also mentally. The pandemic has had a larger effect on the mental state of many of our seniors than many people think. When all of this started last year, all students were suddenly cut from school and switched to online learning. This led to students feeling disjointed and suddenly ripped from their social lives, as well as stressed out by the sudden change into online learning for the last quarter of the school year.
There are many students still re-adjusting to everything to everything. When asked about one event that this year that they would miss the most, senior Nick Pippin answered: “I will definitely miss not having Gradventure and Grad Bash the most”. The cancellation of many of this year’s school events (homecoming, prom, etc.) has left many students feeling saddened. “It's really unfortunate that the world has so much going on, but I’m happy that the school is doing a good job and still running strong amid all of it. I’m not too worried about not getting the dream senior year because stuff happens and I'm happy I can at least be here with my friends”, he added.
In fact, a decent number of seniors are less saddened by the lack of events and are satisfied with just being present with their friends. When asked what they thought the most important part of their final year was, another senior, Marcos Sosa, answered: “The time spent with most of my close friends.” He continued: “I kind of feel disappointed yet I don’t really mind, at least I am a senior and I should be thankful for that." Even though this year might not be as many were hoping for, it is good to know that many people are trying to stay as optimistic as they can be.
It's important to try and not stress out during this time, despite how hard it may be, as it is easy to get overwhelmed with everything that is happening. Here are a few things that not only seniors, but all students can try if they get overwhelmed with everything:
The worst part of the pandemic is just how uncertain the future of it is; and the feeling of not knowing is terrifying to many, and rightfully so. While we don’t know what is to come, it should be reassuring that we will all be going through it together.