“Empty school” by bennylin0724 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

I was a junior in high school in March of 2020. The flowers are blooming and the temperature is warming up as spring approaches. We were preparing to leave for Spring Break, but the question was whether we would ever return to school after that. When my teacher said, “We might not see each other again,” I was in Relationship class. “What is going on?” I begin to wonder. As a result, I approached my teacher’s desk and inquired, “What makes you say that?” “There’s a new virus going around, and it’s spreading pretty fast,” she said. While everyone was ecstatic that we would not have to go to school again, they weren’t thinking about how they would cope.The teachers were a bit worried that day while the students were happy. Happy that there is a chance of them not returning to school. That day I made sure to hug my friends and say goodbye to them. The time went by so fast that day and the bells were ringing to dismiss us. Everyone was so excited to go on Spring break. I was walking through the halls wondering if I will ever walk in them again.

Watching the news every day during spring break is a habit for me. Near the end of spring break, my parents received a phone call from Henrico County Public Schools. “Hello HCPS families, this is Andy Jenks calling to let everyone know that HCPS is extending spring break by another week.” It was the call most students had been waiting for, but they didn’t realize that we might not be able to resume our normal school days. All the students have posted on their social media how excited they are that schools will be closed for another week. On the other hand, the teachers expressed concern. The whole world is confused. No one knows what’s going on or what’s going to happen. People went crazy and bought a bunch of stuff just in case everything shut down. Everyone watches the news every day for information about the new virus and how many people have been infected with it. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary that week. It’s all like a dream and I think we’ll be back to normal in a few days.

A week has passed, another call from Henrico County Public Schools said “HCPS will continue to be online for the remainder of the school year”. An unexpected call, up to this point everyone is extremely surprised. Teachers contacted students to make sure they had Wi-Fi and could do the work. The teachers were put in a position where they were not ready. While students perform, teachers are trying to find ways for students to continue using the material at home. Most teachers are exhausted because they are not ready for this. Teachers consider this unfair because they are not aware of it. They are just thrown there and are expected to function properly. While teachers don’t know what to do, they also don’t want to just post work online and expect students to do it. At this point, no one knows what will happen or how the school year will end. Will seniors still have a diploma? Will they step onto the stage like the other students did? Every senior and teacher has these questions in mind.

Being a teacher during that year was stressful. They were trying to stay positive while everything around them was falling apart. Most of the teachers were meeting with their students through Zoom but not all of them were since it wasn’t required. I really wanted to meet with my Relationship class because most of them were seniors and we all wanted to celebrate them especially during this time. Our relationship teacher didn’t really know about Zoom so I walked her through and she set up a time for the whole class to meet. While seeing her, we focused more on the older ones, since we probably won’t see them again. We try to stay positive just because they don’t know what the future holds. During the meeting, we shared what we did and the hobbies we developed during the quarantine. It was fun and a great time to reconnect.

The current COVID19 pandemic has affected us all. However, depending on our status as individuals and members of society, the impact and consequences of the pandemic are perceived differently. While some people struggled to adapt to working online, raising children and getting food through Instacart, others were forced to get infected to stay afloat. All of our lives have changed and everyone has a different perspective. Whether teaching students in hidden, social or digital classrooms, through computer screens, teachers face enormous challenges. Things have changed and nothing will be the same as before.