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Beyond the Cave

Beyond the Cave

How Have Students Changed Since 2020?

A reflection on ways the pandemic affected students’ lives.
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Mr. Suggs
“After COVID there was just a sense of disconnect about school in general,” said Ms. Bennett.

The world is almost four years removed from the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, and Beyond the Cave went to find out exactly how students are responding to a new normal. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about many changes to schools across the country in 2020, but the education system may be getting back to the pre-pandemic norm.

In March of 2020, schools across Tuolumne County canceled classes due to the raise in COVID-19 cases in the area. Students were told to not come to classes for two weeks, which turned into not coming back the rest of the school year, and remote learning for the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

Once schools were allowed to reopen there were many changes to how the educational system operated. Students had to wear masks all day and social distancing was enforced while in classrooms. One of the biggest challenges was that if a student tested positive for COVID-19 they had to quarantine for two weeks, meaning they had to do their learning from home and everybody around them at school had to quarantine as well. That caused many students to fall behind in their classes. 

Remote learning was a struggle for students and teachers alike. Ms. Banks explained some of the frustrations with teaching over Zoom. 

“During distance learning everybody cheated, and it was hard to keep anybody’s attention because people were not engaged, they didn’t feel like they had to be.”

— Mrs. Banks

As Ms. Banks said, while students were in remote learning they did not feel much pressure to academically excel. There was also a state directive that indicated students could not fail a course during the virtual learning. 

“At first I think students were trying with their education, but once we learned nobody would be coming back to school, most students completely stopped putting in the effort, it took the power out of the teachers hands because they were not there to help,” said Ms. Bennett.

When students were out of the classroom, contacting their teachers was more difficult and teachers were not able to provide as much help to their students. 

Summerville initially adopted a temporary half-day school schedule, with dismissal at noon, but returned to a regular school schedule in the spring of 2021. 

Mrs. Fray commented on returning to social and school life norms in an interview with Beyond the Cave. 

“I think kids are getting to be social again. They are getting to have a normal school experience. What I love is all the school spirit that we get to have here, you didn’t get to have that when learning online.”

Students are getting to have normal school experiences, such as attending sports events and dances. They are getting to participate in person instead of doing all of their school from home. 

Being at home and not interacting with their peers caused noticeable differences in students’ social skills, but with a regular school schedule students are starting to return to where they should be socially. 

“This year the class has been actually making eye contact and talking to each other and interacting with others more than I’ve seen the last couple of years,” said Ms. Bennett.

It took a long time for school to begin looking like it did before the lock down. Students did not have very much structure while in distance learning, which made it difficult for them to adjust when school was back in full swing. 

School principal, Mr. Christopher, weighed in on the topic. 

“I can say from my other experiences with students, I noticed it took some time for students to transition back into school routines. So much of school is based on schedules, and during COVID, schedules were not very consistent and if there were schedules, they were always changing. Students returning to a regular and recurring schedule was, in my opinion, the most challenging transition back to school as we know it today.”

While the educational system is returning to its pre-pandemic normal, it may take some time.

“I think all schools across the country will continue to experience some effect of the lock down for a few more years. Some are more obvious than others,” explained Mr. Christopher.

The pandemic forced everybody to be more conscious about their health. If a person had any flu-like symptoms they were required to stay home in order to protect the health of others. This helped illness not spread as much, and gave time to recover from a sickness. 

Not being able to go to school for so long certainly affected students across the country. While students no longer have to wear masks or quarantine for 14 days if they tested positive for COVID, the pandemic has affected schools across the country.

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Leila Dwight
Leila Dwight, Reporter
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