The Covid 19 Pandemic changed all our lives, forever. In 2019, we got hit with a virus that spread all over the world. It hit its high point in 2020 and caused millions of deaths. We fell into a lockdown and were confined to our homes. Schools decided to go online during lock down. The following year, students had the choice of doing online school or face to face. Eventually, after that year, all students were able to go back to in person school to be together again with one another. Now, 2023, post pandemic left with the question, what now?
The schools follow what the CDC recommends and/or requires them to do. There were a lot of rules and regulations the schools had to enforce to ensure the safety of all the staff and students. Two main enforcements were the masks mandates and 6ft social distancing. Administration, deans, and teachers all worked really hard to ensure the safety of everyone. This included reminders of wearing masks and making seating spread out as much as possible. When a student tested positive for COVID-19, the parent was asked to inform the school and all work and absences were excused, even with no doctor's note. At that time, the time needed for isolation was an average of 14 days. Teachers on the other hand, could go on a “COVID leave” without using any of their personal sick days. Now, if a student tests positive for COVID-19, they can be out for 5 excused days, but have three days to make up work. Teachers, post pandemic, will have to use up their sick days.
Speaking of attendance, it seems to be a big concern recently at our school. The way attendance works now this year is each student gets 10 days of excused absences until a doctor’s note is needed. The pandemic certainly opened our eyes to, “the importance of face-to-face education” Mr. Dombo said. So, our school is really cracking down on our attendance. Essentially, the need for students to be in school as much as possible is a must. The pandemic lowered students education significantly. Looking at last year to now, Saint Cloud High School’s graduation rates went down 4%. Although still being the highest in the district, we went from a graduation rate of 97% to 93%. That also ties into accountability, Mr. Dombo also says, "one thing that was a lasting negative effect is accountability to whether it be at school or work.” Having the option of there being the excuse of COVID has left a great effect on our society. Our attitude towards the ability to have an option of coming to school or not has led to not only the increased tardiness and absences, but also the attention to schoolwork and education. We have learned and evolved through the pandemic and found new ways to protect ourselves and others so we can continue our “normal”.
Most students need the social interaction that school can give. It gives them friendships and challenges to face so they can continue to grow. Students' lives were affected a lot by the pandemic, being in lockdown for so long. Mr. Muller comments, “a lack of social skills amongst our youth (and some adults) is one of the biggest challenges.” "We got so used to talking through screens and texting in chats that some forgot what it was like to be in person and talk with another human being". Talking with fellow students on our campus, senior, Sarah Zambrano Gil says, “I think the vibes right now are so much different because there were some people that became anti-social and haven’t been as open as before. I think quarantine changed almost everyone in the best and/or worse way.” She goes on to say that people definitely changed in the way they go about their lives as in they are now more aware of things such as being sanitary or just being more aware of things happening around us. Senior, Kiara Ortez also agrees with this saying, “many things have changed in becoming more sanitary and safer at the same time”. We are growing as a community and adapted our everyday lives to the pandemic. It is hard to snap back to where we were, but we will get to a point of where we are comfortable again. We will no longer be as carefree and open as we once were.
However, we can only grow and move on from what was to what is now. Now we are more aware of our surroundings and of others, and even though there is less socialization in the world face to face and more online, people will always come together in the end.