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COVID through the eyes of a high school senior

by JR Schaufler, Salem High School senior

At the end of each day coming home from school kids are always asked, “How was your day?” “What did you learn today?” “Make any new friends?” These questions have been the same for generations.

When the school bell rings at 8 o’clock in the morning you can see kids rushing to make it to class, teachers beginning their lesson, and the school day begins. School for some is an escape. An escape from maybe a bad home or what they have to deal with outside of school. It’s a place to see friends, to make memories.

Entering into my senior year of high school I was excited and ready for what this year was going to hold. Often it is called the best year of your teenage life, but school amid the current Covid-19 pandemic looks very different then what it did in years past.

Now kids must wear a mask, not get too close to their friends, wait to sit down so the teacher can wipe the desk down for you. Student’s used to look forward to lunch to sit with their friends and talk about the events of that day, but now even that is restricted.

Everyday new debates pop up over whether or not we should even be in school. Calling schools superspreaders and saying that we’re not following the guidelines, but in fact for the most part we are. Pretty much everyone wears their mask, and everyone stays as far apart as they can.

While these are important things to keep us safe and we understand that, in doing all of this are we really missing what school is all about. Of course, the root of school is getting an education, but for a student in school it is so much more.

School is having dances and proms, going to all the basketball and football games and cheering in the student section, sitting at lunch laughing with your friends until your stomach hurts. So while we’re stopping the spread of one major crisis, are we really starting another? Were stopping kids from having the opportunity to be kids in school.

We no longer get to see our friends smile because it’s hidden by a mask. Some of our friends we no longer get to hear because they’re silenced by a mute button on a computer. School is something all kids need, whether it be a social aspect, or a place where a kid might get their only meal of the day. Every day student’s hear ‘dream big’, ‘shoot for the stars’, ‘you can do anything you put your mind to.’ What are we dreaming for when right now? All we see in the world is hate, and fear, and a society who wants to uproot the only thing we kids have left and put it all on a computer for us to experience life through a screen. What are we supposed to shoot for when not only we students, but also our teachers, are burned out from trying to juggle everything and figure out this mess…along with the rest of the world.

One of my teachers said this year that the key word for everyone is “grace.” We have to give everybody a little grace. So the next time you say that school is a superspreader, know that schools are not doing everything they can to stop the spread. Give us a little grace. We are trying, but oftentimes it’s hard. It’s hard to not get to experience these last few memories I wanted to have of high school before I graduate. It’s hard to think about whether or not all of my family will get to attend my high school graduation, or will I be limited to picking a select few who will get to come.

School this year is not what it has been in the past.  That much is for sure, but the little things are still there. The laughter, the memories. So, the next time you ask a kid, “How was your day?” truly ask them. Don’t look for, “It was fine.”  Don’t look for, “not bad.” Look for how they’re actually feeling and listen to them.

In times like these we all need a little grace. So, try to give it to us. Try to put yourself in a student’s shoes. We may be kids in the world’s eyes, but in our eyes were a generation who has survived a whole lot in the past year. We are the kids surviving everyday through a pandemic. When a kid comes home and tells you they had a really good day, don’t take it for granted because it seems like lately those are few and far between. Try and give us a little grace, and with everyone’s help we will persevere. 

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