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School After The Pandemic: What Is The New Normal?

Ophelia Clark-Wade, Grade 9, Staff Writer


 

On March 13th, 2020, the High School of American Studies, among all other Department of Education schools, shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not until September 2021 did full in-person learning return. As students and teachers regain their footing, one question remains: will school ever be “normal" again?


Ever since the pandemic, New York City has had frequently changing protocols for stores, public transit systems, and other shared spaces, especially schools. The NYC public school system transformed significantly, having to alter the way in which education was delivered to and received by students.


Not until this year has a sense of normality returned for many students, yet it is undeniable that school life is still not the same as it once was.


This year’s senior grade is the only one to remember pre-pandemic life in high school. Nonetheless, a majority of seniors’ high school experiences have been an inconsistent mix of asynchronous, online, and in-person classes.


Although certain aspects of school like homework, tests, projects, and the common goal of graduation, remained consistent throughout the pandemic, the stress related to these tasks became amplified; two out of three students in the United States found it difficult to complete their work since the pandemic. Furthermore, the pandemic adversely affected the social life of students, leading to a decline in extracurricular participation; the tradition of long lines for sign-ups at the annual club fair were not quite the same this past fall.


Ella Andonov(‘23) describes her high school experience during the pandemic: “When I first came to HSAS I think everybody was very involved in the school . . . After the pandemic students lost touch with the school as school wasn’t their whole life anymore.”


The connection for students with school through extracurricular activities was put on pause during the pandemic. The isolation of at-home learning decreased the daily social interactions which students had been accustomed to.


School spirit and a sense of community diminished. Students had to become more independent, creating their own communities or lives away from school.


While school-wide enthusiasm decreased during the pandemic, the pandemic also illuminated the importance of student camaraderie.


Sienna Lipton(‘23) noticed that students “value being together more than in freshman year” as they now have the opportunity to interact with other students beyond the Zoom wall.


The challenges of the pandemic are still ubiquitous and as schools and students have adapted to its conditions a new normal is emerging.


Ultimately, the complete resurrection of pre-pandemic life is unrealistic. As schools rebuild community, Lipton noted that it is important to remember that “COVID is never going to go away.”


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