Survey reveals Covid-19 effects on students


Savannah Girgenti

On March 13, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf announced the temporary 10-day suspension of all K-12 schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Four weeks later, on April 9, 2020, Governor Wolf extended his original statement to a permanent suspension for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just under two months ago, Pennsylvania schools began to finalize their plans to reopen the 2020-2021 school year. Although it was up to each school district how they chose to proceed, a majority of the districts chose to implement a remote learning program through the form of Zoom, Google Classroom, and many other online teleconferencing platforms. The struggle between getting students back into a traditional learning environment and keeping the risk of exposure as low as possible has been a challenge. The plans and decisions that come along with reopening, and staying open, present an almost impossible task for school boards across the state.

Our very own community here at Neshaminy High School has been a roller coaster to create and revise the plans for this unique school year. The superintendent of Neshaminy School District, Doctor Robert McGee, has been the main source of information and updates for Neshaminy students and parents. The basic outline provided to the Neshaminy community concerning the 2020-2021 school year is as follows:

Plan A: Asynchronous virtual school starting in September through Zoom and Canvas with synchronous Zoom on Fridays
Plan B: Hybrid learning (Red/blue schedule with Zoom classes on students’ off days)
Plan C: All students in school Monday-Thursday with synchronous Zoom on Fridays
Plan D: Opt-out (for students/parents who do not feel comfortable being back in school)

September 8 marked the beginning of remote virtual schooling as described in Plan A. On Wednesday, September 29, the Neshaminy School Board had their first of many meetings to determine whether we would move to the next phase in the reopening process. That night, the meeting concluded, and we were set to start Plan B on October 5, 2020. Although we are taking steps toward returning to a traditional way of school, there is no doubt that the circumstances of this year have taken a toll on the students and staff at Neshaminy Highschool. This year for many students has been unlike any other. When a survey was given out to the student body about how this year has affected their mental health, as well as their schoolwork, the responses were disheartening. Over half of the students polled said that the Coronavirus pandemic has had a negative impact on them as well as made their lives much more stressful. Below are real student responses when asked the question, “Overall, how has Covid-19 affected your mental health and schoolwork/ability to learn?”:

“Covid has given me this overwhelming feeling of being prey like I’m trapped in a cage with no escape. As far as my ability to learn is concerned, I have become so much less productive because I’ve been worrying about those around me.”

“The quarantine and Covid-19 had caused a lot of stress among students. I personally find it difficult to keep up with some assignments and work. Learning is especially difficult because it feels like there is just too much happening and we can’t focus on one thing.” “My mental health is at an all-time low because of school and my grades are the worst they’ve ever been. I think this has been caused by the poor way school has been set up and the lack of empathy from the teachers and school as a whole. We don’t get a break.”

“I just hope the future holds something more positive because this year has really changed things for the worse.”

“All I do is eat, sleep, school, and cry. It’s hard to stay focused. And it’s depressing not seeing my friends smile.”

In addition to the effect on students, teachers have also been put in a tough situation much different from what they are used to. Two teachers that work in the building were kind enough to give insight into what it’s really like to be a teacher during the pandemic.

When asked how the Coronavirus has affected his job as a teacher, Mr. Luongo answered, “We’ve learned a lot in a short amount of time. Necessity breeds change, and there have been positives and negatives. But I think we have a lot to consider before we see a full return to “normal,” especially when “normal” itself will likely be considerably different.”

Neshaminy teacher, Ms. Guidos also gave some input on the situation, “I don’t feel alone as a new teacher this year, as everyone has had to rethink their typical instructional strategies. It often seems daunting attempting to balance all that is expected in this new environment. Presenting students with rigorous content, navigating the online platforms, finding a place for grace, holding students accountable, and ensuring my microphone isn’t on mute during Zoom classes all seems an impossible feat at times.”

The pressures of high school alone are enough to stress out any student, but the added stress and confusion of trying to learn in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, it makes things just that much more difficult. Here at Neshaminy, the students are encouraged to not be too hard on themselves, or their teachers. As a student, keep in mind that teachers are doing the best they can. Figuring out how to teach their lessons online in a way that is still effective is not easy.

As a teacher, keep in mind that students are also doing the best they can. Not only has the Coronavirus affected students’ education, but it has also affected many students’ personal lives, and the pressure from school on top of that is a lot for anyone to handle all at once. The Coronavirus has affected the world in ways people didn’t even know were possible. Still, the only way to help the situation improve is to work together, support each other.