Commentary: We survived COVID… How do we move forward?

Claire Kisielnicki, Editor-in-Chief

On March 13, 2020, Manitou Springs High School along with schools around the country announced that they would be extending Spring Break by two weeks because of a new virus called COVID-19. I remember that we were all excited to have extra time off, but we had no clue what it would turn into. 

During Spring Break, the Superintendent announced that we would be going into full online school instead of in person learning because the virus was becoming a worldwide pandemic. This was a shock to all of us as nobody had experienced online school or been away from our peers for so long.

Online school was a very difficult adjustment for everyone as we were all stuck in our homes, expected to sit and do our work in our personal spaces. There was definitely a divide as some students felt they learned more at home while others couldn’t focus and had no motivation. 

Life as a high school student is almost completely back to normal now that COVID is coming to an end, but is it really? I think it’s important that all students impacted by COVID reflect on the true impact these past couple years have had on them. 

COVID-19 completely changed the way students learn and work with others, but are we recognizing this? This is a big question I think a lot of students are glossing over as we come to the end of our first year back to full in person learning. 

This reflection starts by realizing the things that we’ve lost and the things that have changed. The Class of 2022 lost the second half of their sophomore year, and for a lot of students, that meant a whole sports season as well. This means that as athletes we lost a whole year of progression which can be a big deal. 

Losing a whole semester of in person learning definitely had an impact on our following years. How we learned completely changed and learning to constantly adjust made our experience much more difficult. 

For others COVID wasn’t just about school but also their families. Essential workers like nurses and doctors had to spend large amounts of time away from their families, and people lost family members and those close to them. 

People are tending to forget about or try to move on from all of these events, but without reflecting on how they truly affected us we will struggle to truly move on. 

Making the adjustment back to full in person learning was something a lot of us struggled with. The homework loads got much bigger, and teachers expectations for us were the same as before COVID happened. 

Along with this, many students including myself had a large loss of motivation going into this school year, especially after we experienced smaller work loads and had more time to finish assignments. 

Being a high school student is already hard enough on teenagers, so having to adapt to all of these changes as well as just getting through high school is very difficult. I know I had a lot of struggle with my motivation and overall organization coming back this year, and with the stress of being a senior added on top of that, it has been a lot to handle. 

So not only has our education been impacted, but there has also been a change in students’ mental health. The American Psychological Association reported that 81% of teens have experienced more stress during the pandemic and much of this is associated with schooling. Anxiety, depression, PTSD and suicidal ideation has raised in teens because of the pandemic. There are studies that show how our mental health has declined, how our test scores have dropped and how many negative impacts this whole situation has had on all of us. 

So what I need all of us to do is take a breather and not be too hard on ourselves. Find those people to hold you accountable when you can’t get motivated and know that you are not alone in feeling that way. It will be hard, but finding a new normal as students whether in a new chapter going to college or continuing as a high school student is possible and we will get there.