When California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools in Los Angeles County would not be allowed to start in person, many students, including us staffers on The Chronicle, were extremely disappointed. In June, we were already setting layout dates and expecting to return to Weiler Hall by the fall, but with the number of COVID-19 cases on the rise, we wholeheartedly agreed with Newsom and the medical experts advising him—school should be virtual until it is safe for large groups to convene. So, just as we did last semester, we will wake up every day, open our computers and log in to class on Zoom.
The prospect of staring at a screen all day is certainly not enticing. As we have for the past six months, we will miss out on the small but often under-appreciated memories that make up our school experience. The classmate with whom you share three classes with will just be another person in a box on your Zoom screen. Waving to last year’s English teacher will become a thing of the past with interactions limited to scheduled office hours and overly-formal emails. You’ll never get to know that person in another grade who you would have sat next to in a Kutler Center course if school was happening in person. And perhaps most significantly, you won’t get to make small talk with Kay and Phairot as you walk through the cafeteria looking for freshly baked cookies or frozen grapes.
Though many members of the school community are thankfully safe and healthy, these times have taken an emotional toll on all of us. Yet despite the ennui overshadowing us, remember that these moments of boredom serve to remind us of how lucky we are to attend an educational institution that fosters such a friendly in-person environment. When daily life returns to normal, think back to these months and consider how lucky you are to not have to constantly remain six feet away from others and to not have to wear a mask whenever you leave the house. While school often throws unavoidable curve balls, this time in quarantine should be a reminder to embrace those surprises, both positive and negative.
Online activities have brought unique opportunities to students.
Instead of continuing to complain about school being online, pay attention to the positives that virtual classes have to offer. For one, we’ve been forced to evolve our technological skills for greater work efficiency and to actively seek out human interaction; group FaceTime sessions have become a part of our everyday lives. With the introduction of the Quad, students have been able to learn yoga and Zumba moves they never would have known otherwise. Picnics and drive-in movies, previously obsolete, are now special happenings enjoyed six feet apart from one another.
On top of everything, our teachers are providing the same level of exceptional education that they offer in person. In addition, our school was featured in The Wall Street Journal because of its extensive planning for a return to campus; students attending schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) don’t have the same assurances.
Even though it’s difficult, it’s important to have perspective.
Everyone is struggling right now, some more than others. Students with family members who are essential workers may have to babysit their siblings. Others may have loved ones who are battling COVID-19. Students enrolled in LAUSD schools are only required to attend class four days a week, and nationwide, all students battle slow WiFi, a lack of access to devices and quiet spaces needed to work.
In the meantime, try to be grateful for the opportunity to attend school, and motivate yourself to make new friends, participate in different clubs or join a virtual athletics class. Until we all see each other again, Zoom onward.