As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, students all over the world faced challenges in every mental, social and educational aspect of their lives. Last year, students treaded into unknown territory as full online school models were introduced in March of 2020. OHS students have learned to adapt to new learning models from distance learning- to hybrid- to four in-person days each week. As COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way, it has especially hit the graduating Class of 2021 the most. OHS Magnet spoke to a few seniors to discuss the effects COVID-19 has had on their junior and senior years.
COVID-19 has had a dramatic effect on students’ mental health. According to the article “Insurance Claim Data Show How Much Teen Mental Health Has Suffered During the U.S. COVID-19 Pandemic” by TIME Magazine, “The big three conditions affecting the 13 to 22 group in both years were anxiety, depression, and adjustment disorders—and they all exploded in the spring of 2020, increasing 80 to 90 percent year over year for the 13-18 group.”
OHS students missed out on sports, clubs, concerts, and other activities last year which gradually took a toll on their mental health. Although the majority of students are able to return to school and their activities, most are still recovering from the stress and anxiety weighing down their shoulders during last year’s distance learning.
Distance learning has provided some students with a sense of independence and self-reliance but has had a destructive impact on other’s mental health. Global lockdown forced students into isolation. Isolation combined with the uncertainty in the world directly impacted student’s mental health throughout the pandemic. Senior Emma Klemmensen said, “At first COVID-19 affected my mental health in a not so good way because we were all stuck in our houses during the first phase of COVID-19. But now I am vaccinated, so I can hang out with my other friends that are vaccinated.”
Extracurriculars have especially been a challenge for students over these past 14 months. Last year, all spring sports were canceled. During this year’s fall season, sports like volleyball and football were put on hold. However, the teams were able to eventually have a shortened season. Even with the delays this fall, OHS sports have been able to have a shortened season. The loss of last year’s season and the shortened season this year has affected all student-athletes, especially those looking to move on to the collegiate level. OHS students were, however, thrilled to have a season of any kind this year no matter the COVID-19 precautions. Senior Nate Smith said, “COVID-19 has definitely affected my sports by shortening the seasons by a lot and I think more importantly it has affected a lot of kids mentally. There is also not much competition between schools at sporting events and it does not feel the same at all. In my personal life, it is tough not seeing family as much, but besides that, I am happy to see things are starting to get a little better.” From the 2021 graduating class, 16 students signed on Feb. 5, 2021, to continue playing at the collegiate level.
The loss of activities and in-person classes allowed students to spend more time at home with their families and try out new hobbies. Senior Ryker Richardson said, “I really enjoyed being all online for school. This gave me a lot of extra free time which has affected my mental health in a good way. I have had more time to reflect on life and have had extra time to try out new hobbies where I was able to meet new people. These hobbies included snowboarding and skateboarding.”
LEARNING AT OHS
Many OHS students were able to take advantage of the barriers COVID-19 brought on. Online and self-reporting classes prepared students for higher education, teaching accountability and independence. Senior Grace Arthur, “I liked being all online because it allowed me to work on my own time and keep myself accountable. I also feel like this was a benefit because it has set us up for what college will be more like.”
As restrictions are slowly being lifted, OHS juniors and seniors are looking forward to a relatively normal upcoming year. COVID-19 has been one of the most groundbreaking obstacles the world has ever faced. These past 14 months, the world has faced a new and ordeal situation, and yet, OHS students have managed to find the positives. Though COVID-19 has been a challenge, OHS has made it through a global pandemic, learning valuable lessons along the way.