A Canadian High School Senior on What It’s Like During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Who would’ve thought that Friday, March 13, 2020, would be the last official day of being a high school student. Technically, I’m still in high school but it doesn’t feel the same not being able to physically go to school, learn and see my friends. Never thought I would miss walking through the hallways and smelling Axe after all the boys sprayed a ridiculous amount. But here I am, in my ninth week of staying at home balancing school and well, trying to keep sane.
I’ll be the first to admit that I was downplaying this whole situation. I should’ve recognized the signs sooner, I was getting fewer shifts at the mall, working as a sales associate for Zara. The mall was getting emptier, day by day. It was right up until my school board announced that they would be extending march break for two additional weeks where I realized how serious it was getting and just like that everything changed.
Being a grade 12 student has been something I have been looking forward to the minute I walked into high school as a freshman. Of course, I’m bummed about not being able to experience prom and graduation. The only unfortunate event that came out of missing prom was purchasing my dress. The more I think about it, I realized I purchased my prom dress so early on because my mom was more excited than I was. As for graduation, I was so excited to walk across the stage because it felt like a moment I could recognize all the hard work that I put into those years. More than that, bearing the 2-hour long commencement, graduation is about reflecting on all the good and bad memories that us seniors went through. On the bright side, my school announced graduation would be postponed in the fall. At least, I get to see my friends again after we’ve all gone to University — that is if Universities don’t end up going online.
Speaking of University, I was in a very fortunate position to have gotten my acceptances back in December and January. While some of my friends are still waiting on offers, it can be extremely stressful maintaining or trying to “boost” marks to meet admission requirements. As well, there’s been a lot of talk around whether the first semester of school will be online. I hope it isn’t, and that’s for many reasons. For one, I wouldn’t be getting the traditional Frosh week and well just the overall experience a first-year should get. Plus, first year is the time where many decide to switch out, school online can make it harder for myself and many others to determine if the program they’re in is really what they want.
No decision has been set in stone about University being online, so I’ll just focus on navigating senior year, online. I think my favourite thing is my teachers recognizing how this is a stressful time but also managing to hand out 20 assignments — yes I’m exaggerating but some teachers have been giving an extraneous amount of work. I will say though, they have been great at being flexible with timelines which have helped a lot. That being said, online school is hard. Some days are good and I have all the motivation in the world and other days I just want to lay in bed. At first, I thought it was because I was being lazy, but in actuality, it was because I miss my normal routine. If I was ever feeling unproductive I’d walk to Starbucks and spend the entire day working there. Now, that’s no longer a possibility. I am confined within the four walls of my home. And did I mention that I’m stuck with 3 other human beings who are also working from home. While I hate how the learning process is structured, I keep reminding myself that this is an extraordinary measure taken for an extraordinary time.
I should add, the stress for many students like myself isn’t just limited to the pandemic. It can be tricky as a student because of how the marking system works. Students are now bombarded with an overwhelming amount of written assignments. For the most part, presentations are no longer a possibility. Assessments like this were what once would help students on their overall academic performance. Plus when you’re stuck at home not working at your part-time job that means you are one step further from paying for tuition — cheers to being in debt longer than I would’ve liked. Maintaining my average has never been more important for me until I started depending on all of the scholarships I have been applying to.
On the bright side, being in quarantine for almost 9 weeks has allowed me to find a new love for morning runs and baking. Overall, this time has been overwhelmingly stressful but it has also made me very humble and appreciative of my privilege. I recognize that many kids have parents that lost their jobs, I’m grateful to say that both my parents are still getting their paychecks — although waking up to the sound of my parents talking on conference calls isn’t so delightful. I am also appreciative of the fact that I’m in a safe home, while I recognize that for some kids school was the safest thing. Lastly, while being stuck at home it has taught me what is most important in life and making it clear as day as to what my priorities are when this is all over.
Staying at home is hard but it is the best thing that we can all do right now as I said before, these weeks have been very humbling and overwhelming. I know we will get through this.