We asked area junior high and high school students to submit essays about how COVID-19 has changed their experience of going back to school.School isn’t the same for everyone. The situation depends on where students live and what their parents have decided is best for their families. Some are back in school full time and others part time, others are online every day.
Laura Pollard, a seventh-grader at Moscow Middle School, won the essay contest with her entry, “I Used to Think.” Many students expressed similar feelings, concerns and longings in their essays, which are featured in selected excerpts in this week’s edition.
“I Used to Think”
By Laura Pollard, Moscow Middle School
I used to think summer flew by without enough time for friends, family and adventurous trips, but now I know that summer can get quite boring without those special experiences.
I used to think going to school five days a week was overwhelming and I valued the breaks, but now I know that nothing is ever going to make up for the four months of school we lost.
I used to think that waking up for school was so draining, but now I know that I would do anything, including dragging myself out of bed at 2 a.m., if it meant getting back to a normal school year.
I used to think that small classes were my favorite and my biggest class being 10 people would be so much fun, but now I know that small classes are painfully silent and sort of sad.
I used to think that the zit on the end of my nose was so embarrassing and ugly, but now I know that it doesn’t even compare to wearing a virus-stopping, hot, soggy mask for seven hours.
I used to think that screen time was fun, but now I know that I’d rather be in my classroom, listening to my teacher talk for hours, rather than staring at another computer screen.
I used to think that the halls were so crowded and that I felt like a salmon swimming upstream, but now I know that walking through a deserted hallway is strange and awkward and makes me long for the lighthearted joking that used to ring through the halls.
I used to think lockers were a hassle, but now I know that always having a backpack weighing me down is 10 times worse.
I used to think that the lunch room was so raucous and it was hard to find a spot, but now I know that I would do anything to sit close to my friends and laugh as hard as we have before.
I used to think that the school was crammed with students, but now I know that it was full of friends and I wish we all could be back together.
I used to think that school would always be the same; every year, every month, every day.
But now I know.
Selected excerpts from essays we received
The best day of 2020
It all started Friday the 13th.
Huh, sound familiar?
Anyways, yay! School was canceled for a clean, or so we thought.
Later, on Monday, no way! School is canceled until spring break.
OK, no problem, or so we thought.
No, it wasn’t, it was canceled for the whole year. Yeah, that’s right. No bowling, swimming, going to the NAIA game or touring the middle school for us sixth-graders. Oh, also, don’t forget our whole social life ended so, yay, quarantine.
But finally, one day, we got told that we were going back to school. Literally the best day of that whole year. … Everybody is excited for school. And by everyone, I mean, everyone.
— Samantha Dammon, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
Excited to be back
I am so excited to finally be back in school and not at a computer all day, like last spring. I think this has been the only summer that I was thinking about going back to school, and really excited about it. I could not wait to see my friends again and get real paper assignments. … Now that I am going to school, I get to go somewhere two days a week and see a lot of people, but most of my friends are going on the opposite two days a week. I am really sad that I can’t see all of my friends, but this gives me a chance to get to know other people. I am very glad that the school district has made changes to our school, but some of these changes will be hard to get used to.
— Cora Crawford, Moscow Middle School
Staying distant but engaged
Everyone’s missing out when it comes to social interaction, the students and teachers alike. If I imagine myself teaching virtually, I can see how it must be easier when every student’s muted, but also very weird. (Teachers) are used to the background noise of a classroom and many have uneasily said, “please unmute and talk a bit too, because I’m the only one talking to an empty room.”
… I would like to thank the teachers for their undying endurance and patience, and the school district for working tirelessly to give us students an education, and a good one. Maybe I’ve had some stressful days, but I can imagine that those are nothing compared to what you all went through to get school running. Thank you so much.
— Jasper Premo, Lincoln Middle School, Pullman
The upside of 2020
Living in 2020 has been crazy. We can all agree on that. … Some things are nice about it though, you get to wear cool, different masks and girls won’t have to wear half of their makeup.
— Ashton Kasper, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
Willing to do things differently
Living in 2020 is the first year that you can go out in public and get looked at for not wearing a mask. … Whether you wear the classic blue surgical mask or a trendy patterned one, they get in the way and make things like breathing and talking more difficult. … Aside from the big changes, things like one-way hallways, no drinking fountains, lunch seating and minimal partner work, are small challenges we face in order for face-to-face learning to be allowed. … As a teen growing up in an extremely social society, I want things to go back to normal but if these changes are what it takes to stop the spread, then I’m willing to do them.
— Ashlynn Baldus, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
Picture it: Lewison, 2020. Masks everywhere. Someone accidentally sneezes and everyone runs away, screaming, “RONA!”
— Jacob Barclay, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
Forgot about the virus
I do cross country and it’s been a hard year. We have had less meets than we should have. We have worked super hard, even with COVID. But I have had so much fun that I completely forgot all about COVID.
— Alexis Keller, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
Some changes are good
Things that changed for the better are, people cannot cheat on tests because we are distanced and if a teacher makes a joke, you don’t have to laugh because you have a mask on.
— Bryce Sifers, Sacajawea Middle School, Lewiston
We’ll never get this year back
Originally, in the summer leading up to the beginning of this school year, I was honestly terrified because we had no idea what this year would be like. We did not get our class schedules until two days before we started school. As much as I was terrified, I felt that I was ready to take on whatever we had thrown at us, I was wrong. With the safety precautions we have at my school — staying 6 feet apart, wearing face masks when on the school’s property, and having an entirely new schedule where we have A-day students and B-day students … giving us less time to be in class — it feels like an apocalypse, seeing half-empty halls and classrooms.
Even with the safety precautions, we have had a few cases at the school, and if you have supposedly been in contact with the person with the virus you are quarantined for two weeks, making it so you have less time in class and making it feel like you have far more work to do, bringing more stress. I have personally been quarantined for being near someone with the virus at school. I did not have the virus but I was still quarantined. The sudden change of going to school two days a week, to not going at all until my quarantine was up, knowing I lost valuable time with my teachers, and time to learn the material I need to, stressed me out more than I already am.
… With all of the safety precautions, limited time and physical interaction at school, no sports, no dances, and half the people at school, it feels like life will never go back to normal. We will never get this year of our lives back. It’s full of stress and worries, making us yearn for the end of the year, a new beginning and a new year with no pandemic, with less stress and worries, one we can feel safe and carefree.
— Zachary Payton, Clarkston High School
Our school has never been as clean and healthy as it is now and, even with the pandemic, we find the balance of being protected and safe as well as learning and having fun.
— Logan Wilson, Sacajawea Middle School
This pandemic has changed our generation so much. This is an event that I will never forget. As I said before, it’s getting easier and one day this’ll all be history. We can get through these hard times together. Everyone needs to do their part and we will be out of this situation in no time.
— Hana Kassem, Moscow Middle School