September 8th, 2020 will officially mark my last first day of public schooling, and while I’m used to a wave of anxiety right before I go back, never before has that anxiety been about whether or not we could make it through the year without a deadly virus sweeping through the halls. Never before have I feared that anyone of my classmates could be a carrier waiting to spread the virus to me and my family.
The Coronavirus has rocked the world from every angle, and public schooling was hit as hard as any other aspect of life. I spent the last three months of my junior year of high school in front of a computer screen, and if the precautions placed by my school don’t work, I might spend most of my senior year the same way.
The way things currently stand, I will be going to school in-person twice a week, and due to my mixed schedule through Shawnee State University, I will be taking two in-person classes at my high school and two at the university. In addition to that, I have three online classes. I feel confident that I can handle this workload even if we have to transition to a fully online format, so I’m not worried about myself when it comes to my anxiety about school closing. On the other hand, I have two elementary school-aged siblings, and I have a lot of fear as to what will happen to their education if the virus begins shutting down schools.
For the most part, I’m able to manage my schooling online without much help from my parents, which is good since they both work full-time. My brother and sister need that personal attention, though, and I fear the strain this places on my parents. That’s not even to mention the social aspect of school, and how losing out on months of social interaction might damage my siblings in the long run.
From my week of classes at Shawnee, I can already see my fears of the virus spreading becoming a reality. From irresponsible, maskless students walking around the campus together, to students wearing masks improperly in a way that offers no protection to others, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until the virus spreads across campus like wildfire.
Recent studies have shown that teens and children can spread the virus just as effectively as adults, so even if the students aren’t directly affected by the virus, they can easily bring it home to their relatives. My greatest fear is that I would catch the virus at school, and end up bringing it home to one of my parents, or even worse, one of my grandparents.
I don’t want to make it seem like students or schools are villains, many students are misinformed about the virus and are making judgments based on false information spread through social media, and schools were put in an impossible position by the government to open schools as quickly and fully as possible, while still attempting to keep students safe.
My main point is that all of us, students, parents, teachers, and administrators, are dealing with unprecedented circumstances, and we should all do everything we can to keep each other safe by wearing masks, following school protocols, and monitoring our health in the hope that students can achieve some sense of normalcy in these abnormal times.
Evan Green is a student at Portsmouth West.