Covid-19’s Impact on High School Students

The lives of students young and old have changed drastically since the start of the pandemic. Just six months ago, going to school five days a week, having sports events, variety shows, clubs, and after school activities were suddenly brought to a halt due to the rise of Covid-19, a highly contagious respiratory disease that originated in China. Students quickly, and unexpectedly had to drop everything they were learning in school and even outside of school and were forced into a so-called “quarantine.” To us, we just thought we were having an April vacation early, but in reality, we would be stuck in our houses for three months straight, unable to leave home or physically interact with anyone outside our little “bubble.” We were stuck…in isolation. The pandemic flipped our world upside down, whether it be our family lives, personal lives, school lives, work lives, and much more. I decided to send out a survey to some students at Lincoln High School to get their input on how Covid-19 truly affected their lives. Their identities were left anonymous, allowing them to be honest and truthful about their answers.While being stuck at home surrounded by the same people for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, brought some families together, others felt that they were getting into more arguments and their privacy was being obstructed. Here’s what some students had to say:“Both of my parents and my brother are both home full time now, so I see them all of the time. I definitely get annoyed a lot more with them and the walls are not thick enough in my house because my parents can hear every conversation I have and they love listening in.” -Anonymous “Like many other families, COVID-19 has greatly affected me and my family. I went without seeing my grandparents for about 3 months which probably was the most difficult thing I have done in a while. I went from seeing them at least once a week to never seeing them. As for home life, it was also tense at times. Two 16-year-old twins don’t get along very well when essentially locked up for months. There was a lot of arguing and pestering going on, but in the end, it was also a time for us to grow closer as a family.” -Anonymous“COVID-19 affected my family life by distancing me (literally) from any family member that I do not live with. An example of this would be the fact that my cousin could not come visit from North Dakota due to the pandemic.” -Anonymous. Without true social interaction for months, friendships were greatly affected by this pandemic. Many teens missed their friends and could not stand being away from them, while others enjoyed the space and took advantage of being alone for so long. Some students believed that the forced isolation actually strengthened their friendships rather than break them apart. Here’s what some students had to say:“I value my friendships a lot more because I don’t get to see everyone anymore in school. I try to meet with my friends more and make plans with them because I’ve been around the same people for months on end.” -Anonymous “I went from seeing my friends from 5+ times per week, to not seeing them for months. There are even some people that I was good friends with pre-COVID-19 that I don’t talk to anymore, which is disappointing. I think COVID-19 also displayed who your true friends were. Who was still going to stay in touch with you, make sure you are doing okay, etc.” -Anonymous “I personally believe that COVID-19 ultimately strengthened my friendships. Throughout quarantine, some of my friends and I ensured that we used various virtual methods in order to stay in contact with one another. By recognizing who reached out to me, I was able to determine who my true friends are.” -Anonymous With the quick switch to online learning, many students find it hard to adapt to the new virtual schedule. So much change became overwhelming and put much stress on high school students. Some students claimed that virtual learning made them less motivated and it’s harder to keep up with the work assigned, while others actually prefer the freedom it gives you to complete assignments on your own. Here’s what some students had to say:“I feel that because I am working online all the time I get distracted more easily and I push things off to the last second so it stresses me out.” -Anonymous “School has become a struggle. It is a lot harder motivating yourself at home than it is when you have to be physically in the building. It’s also a lot harder when it comes to sleep because I get very tired in the morning and sitting right near my bed is so tempting because I just want to crawl back in and sleep.” -Anonymous “Even now that we are back in school, it is obviously vastly different from before, and not just the way we attend school. Most of our assignments are online rather than in paper, which for some people, like me, can be difficult because a lot of the time I need something physical to hold to be able to understand it. I think like many others, throughout quarantine, many of us lost motivation to get work done, which I believe has also continued into this school year, and while I try to stay up-to-date on school work, I often find myself procrastinating and completing assignments last minute. -Anonymous “COVID-19 has had a positive influence on my view of school. I personally prefer that students are given more freedom in completing assignments themselves and I feel like it is good preparation for college.” -Anonymous The pandemic brought students’ daily lives to a complete stop, preventing us from going to school, work, sports, shopping, visiting friends and family, and having any social interaction outside of our homes. Once let out to the public again, people had to be more cautious about being safe in society and even had to change major aspects of their life like schoolwork and jobs to adapt to our new “normal.” Here’s what some students had to say:“[Covid-19] has affected my personal or daily life because I feel like I am always either at home doing schoolwork or I am at work and I have time for nothing else.” -Anonymous “I don’t have to go to school five days a week now, so that’s a big change. I am home a lot more often and I’m just starting to do the activities that I enjoyed doing but had to stop because of the shutdown, like tennis.” -Anonymous “It has affected my daily/personal life in many ways. I had to leave my job due to the pandemic, and basic everyday activities could no longer occur.” -Anonymous “I always have to make sure I am staying safe and constantly have my mask and hand sanitizer with me.” -Anonymous “COVID-19 has affected my daily life by limiting the activities that I can participate in and the people that I can see.” -Anonymous The isolation created a lot of time for high school teens to sit and think about their lives and what they want to do in the future. With so much time to think, teens’ personalities started to change, whether it be learning more about themselves, finding they are less motivated, changing habits, or appreciating life more than they used to.“Yes and I feel like I have become more lazy and not as motivated as I used to be.” -Anonymous “ I feel like I valued different things that I should not have valued in my first months of isolation and I’ve changed some of my bad habits.” -Anonymous “I do think I have changed since being in isolation. I have grown to appreciate life more, and appreciate that my family and I are fortunate enough to be able to get through this pandemic with little struggle. I have also realized how important it is to see my grandparents whenever I can because life can take a turn for the worst at any second.” -Anonymous “I think that I have a greater appreciation for my loved ones and their good health since isolation began.” -Anonymous “I’ve learned a lot about myself because I’ve had time to think.” -Anonymous With so much time to think in isolation, there was also so much time to learn new things. Many students had time to pick up new hobbies or even rediscovered their interest in past hobbies. Students even said they feel like they’ve changed as people and have become better versions of themselves than they were pre-quarantine. “I have always loved to read but because of the start of quarantine, I feel like I have been reading more often.” -Anonymous “I feel like I’ve become more organized.” -Anonymous “Although I did not necessarily change as a person, I have definitely become happier and less stressed.” -Anonymous “Without being able to play sports at the beginning it made me discover that I no longer wanted to play club soccer as I was more interested in lacrosse.” -Anonymous “I learned to be a better version of me.” -Anonymous “I’ve rediscovered my love for music.” -Anonymous As we know, Covid-19 affected many aspects of our lives as students, employees, family members, athletes, and friends. But there will always be that one part of our lives that we’ll feel like the pandemic has affected the most when we look back at this. I asked the students specifically what part of their lives they believe Covid-19 has affected the most, here’s what they had to say: “I think it has affected my personality the most because I have become more lazy and unmotivated and I just see things in a different way now. I also have always been close to my family but now I am nervous to get too close to my grandparents because I get worried that I could give it to them.” -Anonymous “Being in public has been affected the most. I have to remember to bring a face mask and social distance everywhere I go. This will probably be the same for years to come.” -Anonymous “I think the most impactful thing that COVID has caused was growing closer to my family. I heard many stories from my parents from when they were kids that I have never heard before, and in general, just all grew closer.” -Anonymous “Being able to play tennis. There are a lot more regulations and you have to constantly make sure you are in and creating the safest environment possible for mental health state.” -Anonymous “Not being able to see my family as often and being able to embrace and hug them. I only can do that with my immediate family.” -Anonymous “Corona really changed my idea of relationships, and my overall attitude on life has become more positive and outgoing.” -Anonymous As the school year begins and college admissions open up, many seniors are starting to feel the stress of balancing college applications with their piles of projects, homework, and essays for their twelfth-grade classes. With that, because of the sudden switch into quarantine in March and the late start of school, everything is behind schedule. College tours were unavailable for a long period of time, and now modified ones are hard to arrange and don’t give you that true college tour experience. Senior year is also the most important year of high school when it comes to the festivities. We take much pride in our annual spirit week, variety show, prom, graduation, and other senior-led activities that truly make one’s high school experience. With so much uncertainty, it is very unlikely for these events to even happen, ruining our traditions and what was supposed to be our “best year of high school.” As a senior myself, I am very disappointed that we are not guaranteed a real senior year experience, since I feel that this last year is the peak of our teenage years. I decided to specifically ask the seniors what part of their final year in high school is most affected by Covid-19, here’s what they had to say:“I think the biggest impact on my senior year has to be college applications and decisions. It sucks that we might not be able to have prom or spirit week and this is our last year, but because the school year was pushed back a little bit, we had to start CCP later and I think I was not as prepared as I would have liked to be.” -Anonymous “College applications are late so that’s a problem. Also, this time of year is supposed to be the best time for seniors with spirit week and homecoming and that’s all gone down the drain. I also never got to go on college tours and I really tanked last year because of the shutdown and not being in school.” -Anonymous “The biggest impact for me is not being able to see my friends. Not being in school doesn’t bother me. It is harder trying to figure out college things though it has been all bad.” -Anonymous “I feel that it is definitely a challenge not being able to attend a physical college tour, and have to make our decision solely based on online information. I am also super sad about spirit week and prom, so I hope that we will eventually get to participate in those events!” -Anonymous “It had a big impact on the SAT, prom, grad ceremony and memories that were supposed to happen.” -Anonymous “COVID took out a lot of the fun stuff I was looking forward to this senior year and has made staying on task a lot harder. Not to mention the built-up stress of college of the virus is really tuff.” -Anonymous I think it’s safe to say that Covid-19 has affected many key aspects of high school students’ lives and truly changed the way we prosper in our daily, personal, work, school, and family lives. These years will definitely go down in history as the world has never seen a pandemic and its impact quite like this.