700 Days Since the Close
February 24, 2022
You can’t look back at the last two years at the High without having the first image be COVID-19. From virtual masses to capacity limits at sporting events, this pandemic is ingrained into our lives. From a student perspective, we can all agree that COVID-19 has been rough over the past two years. From online classes to being separated from our friends, this pandemic has truly caused us so much stress. Though we may have been on Zoom or in the classroom, socially distanced, many of us forgot about each other. Especially the teachers, who adapted their syllabi to an online setting, juggled a hybrid class, and managed to work with students they never saw in person.
Let me take you back to Friday the 13th, March, 2020. I remember sitting in the Manresa cafeteria, having a wonderful Sophomore retreat with many of my good friends. We didn’t have access to a phone, a newspaper, or to the outside world. As we quietly sat eating from a huge pile of snacks, Dr. Gall quietly walked in and made an announcement. “Due to some concerns surrounding the COVID-19 virus, school will be closed for the next week and today. Please come grab your phones and contact your parents to accommodate.”
The whole retreat rejoiced. Several days off from school? No homework? A break from a rigorous education? Sign me up.
What started with one week slowly evolved into two, then three, then a month, then the rest of the school year. What started as a break transformed into a several month sentence of trying to keep up on life from home. Joining ever-changing Zoom links and participating in classes that weren’t ready for a virtual setting, it was a confusing and incredibly stressful period of our lives.
Now that we’ve finally fully returned to The High after two years, teachers have all found ways to accommodate their class and make it function. But this process wasn’t straightforward and easy. Not by a long shot. When asking math teacher Mr. Dillon about what the process has been like for him, he vividly recounts, “That we had no time to adapt to this constantly changing process. We were forced into an environment where we were forced to reevaluate everything from teaching methods to the actual content we teach. Everything changed like that.” Teachers were truly forced to reevaluate everything within days – which, as Mr. Dillon stated, caused them a huge amount of stress. They often don’t get the credit they deserve for how much they had to adapt for us. So though we felt alone as a student body, our teachers were equally confused and lost with us. Even the Faith and Service Office was affected, as our Campus Ministry was forced to modify many of the great programs they offer. From moving masses online due to distancing issues, to canceling retreats, COVID-19 has affected every facet of our school.
Though school was stressful throughout this period for teachers at the High, teachers were equally stressed across the state. One teacher from Marian High School, who preferred to remain anonymous, had a great analysis of the long term issues that arose from the pandemic: “Kids are way behind, because they were in 8th grade and could have blown off all their Zoom classes. Now they’re behind in school and also maturity. Having taught 7th through 12th grade, I would argue my ‘regular’ 9th grade class is more like an early 8th grade class in terms of maturity and content-wise.” This teacher touches on a major issue. Not only is school supposed to provide students with a space to develop relationships and their education, it is also supposed to help them mature. By separating students and locking them in, students have lost the opportunity to mature into young men and women.
Teachers are more than just a resource to pass on information. They serve as role models to teach and forge young people into mature adults ready to tackle the world. Without the opportunity for genuine in-person interactions between many students and their teachers, they have lost this valuable asset – a person they can look up to.
Clearly, COVID-19 has presented teachers with a wide range of issues and stresses that has not only caused stress for students, but teachers as well. Though many of us may think we are alone in this pandemic, someone is sitting at the front of the classroom and went through exactly what we did. So next time you need someone to talk to or just vent about how taxing this pandemic is… remember there is someone who is always more than willing to talk.