By Chloe Vande Kamp
Amidst a pandemic and the isolation that comes with it, a lot of hope has diminished, particularly in teens and students. As the stress and worries of COVID-19 has become more and more overwhelming for students and families, now would be the time to search for a silver lining. Amidst anecdotal data via social media, it is clear that many have suffered at the hands of this pandemic, and the toll it has taken on hundreds of thousands of lives cannot be easily measured. Within the gap social lives used to fill, however, there is room for self reflection and observation of the workings of online schooling. The concept of at-home learning is a vital one with many questions. How are students benefiting from it? Which parts are more difficult to adapt to? Online education may become far more accessible, and thus important for each student to examine in order to determine what is right for them.
From kindergarten to university, all students have moved to online schooling. Parents of young children teach and care from home, providing both stress and relief; the hassle of getting children to school and picking them up is removed, and they are more easily supervised by their parents. However, this additional stress of constantly caring for young children can be a burden for parents. As far as university goes, platforms such as Zoom have allowed lectures and assignments to remain the same. College students have gone home to spend this time with their families and work in a safe quarantined environment. Their curriculum has not been as lenient and flexible for students as for high school students, as it keeps the strict deadlines and self-studying university has always implemented. High school has faced a much different transition, and one that may have consequences to the study and work ethics of students in the future of their education.
In forethought, the idea of learning from the comfort of a bed seemed exciting to many students. Many at the time were feeling pressured, frustrated and anxious—going home for such an extensive period appeared to be a relief. There are exceptions, of course, but the general feel on campus months ago was one of anticipation. It seems a lot more convenient, stress-free and flexible to wake up later and work in bed, with plenty of free time in the afternoon. Still, there are underlying problems that many students are seeing now.
Many of student’s time at school revolved around their social life: seeing peers and teachers is what kept a lot of high schooler’s going. Being in quarantine for so long has made this clear, as many have expressed missing school solely for this one reason. In addition to this there is a large commentary on the subject of online schooling. There are a plethora of student videos expressing the optional feel of school now. While this could simply be an adjustment period, it is a productivity issue. As reminders come only from cell phones, receiving education online requires students to be much more self-reliant and responsible. There is a lack of supervision that students will inevitably take advantage of. Cheating and taking shortcuts through lessons is no feat with internet access, and while students will see this as an advantage, it is only so initially. Classes can be vigorous and uninteresting to some students. However, the life skills such as learning and studying are lost when they are not being used as they are on campus. Without putting in work and truly learning, students will not build up these learning and studying schools that are vital during college years.
Here is the bottom line: online schooling is not for everyone, but neither is learning on-campus. For some, independent studies are optimal, while for others, being around friends and teachers creates a better environment to learn. Both can be tools used by high school students to effectively learn and grow, it only takes self-reflection and a choice-allowing school district to decide which is best for each student.
By Chloe Vande Kamp
As cars become scarce on the roads, it becomes a bit easier to hear the birds and crickets. As pedestrian traffic slows and events are canceled, less of the grass struggles to grow around trash. The air is becoming cleaner, fracking has come to halt, and the world is seeing significant reductions in carbon emissions. One might see these changes as a silver lining to the global pandemic. However, it is important that this is not credited to COVID-19 but to people, or rather, lack thereof. The issues that are being solved were caused in the first place by humans. When lockdowns are released, it is everyone’s responsibility to fix it themselves.
In major cities such as LA and NYC, air pollutants and smog have diminished significantly. In fact, according to CNN, Los Angeles is experiencing its “longest stretch of ‘good’ air quality since at least 1995.” Lack of human activity has also allowed wildlife to thrive in America’s national parks—not to mention in marine ecosystems— giving hope for many endangered species. Flora is blooming, allowing the earth to take in what little carbon dioxide the lighter traffic still produces.
It may seem fair to say that the majority of people acknowledge climate change and its effects. Yet according to a 2019 national survey done by Yale, a shocking “69% of Americans” remain blissfully ignorant to the issue. The lack of acknowledgement of this persistent problem has made fighting for the earth all the more difficult, but the hope remains for activists and environmentalists that the clear correlation between COVID-19 and the start of positive changes to the Earth’s atmosphere will provide irrefutable evidence for the case of human-caused negative impacts. With this comes the hope that seeing these changes firsthand and within the grasp of human initiative will give others the push they need to take action.
Making changes is often daunting and difficult, and without motivation, efforts may come up dry. For decades the message of taking simple action against climate change has been advertised to the public, yet for decades a significant movement of change has been absent. Even so, the time the Earth has been given to heal has also been time for those with access to a safe environment to reflect and evaluate. Notably, not everyone in the current situation has room in their stress-crammed minds for deeper looks into the problems the environment faces; those with family at risk, those without homes, and those living in third-world countries have presently dire problems. Those in more fortunate living conditions, however, have the luxury of addressing environmental issues—these are the people who must encite necessary, who must take it upon themselves to make the small changes that have been neglected for so long: biking and taking public transport instead of driving, drinking from the tap and reusable water bottles, curbing excessive energy consumption, composting, and other small actions that will create massive change together.
Optimism for the environment in its current human-absent state is certainly not unfavorable during a time when people need some color to look at against the gray. However, the earth should not have to rely on global pandemics for the breath of fresh air it deserves, nor should first-world countries be acting like parasites infecting the earth, their vaccine being disease and war. Everyone and anyone with the access to create a change can and should create it. Once COVID-19 dissipates and normal life returns, people will all be granted a second chance to incite the change that will save the planet. This time around society cannot neglect it.
By Pacey Cookson
Ever since quarantine from the worldly pandemic began, teens have begun to notice how hard it can really be without face-to-face interactions with each other. The new issue becomes apparent in everyday life now. The inability to see friends and others during these troubling times is really a test of the mental endurance of teens. The main surprise came when teens originally thought that the current quarantine would be quick and easy, but ultimately what occurred was quite the opposite. Instead, teens were faced with a brand new challenge of being unable to meet up with their friends in public spaces. The effects of this are many, and it poses a very serious question: how are teens' mental health affected by this?
Social interaction is more important than you may think. Multiple studies show that a lack of face-to-face social interaction can lead to depression. Along with this is the fact that without a strong connection to others, there is little emotional support. Mental health is such a key factor in the development of adolescents that without strong social interactions and relationships, teens are offset from the beginning. This could lead to many mental health issues during this time of isolation. Social interaction, especially through physical sociability, can also help teens feel and know that they really do have a meaning in life.
Social interaction is also a very helpful thing to have when in school. For instance, having friends and classmates that students can connect with in class can not only help them understand more, but help form opinions. Teens have gained many memories that they will ultimately remember and shape their personality around, and without a strong social bond, teens become isolated and lonely. With the current situation in mind (being the pandemic), it becomes even less difficult to see how teens can be affected without being in a social classroom. Sure, many teens do get distracted in class, but ultimately, those interactions are what breed creativity and growth in the important years of adolescence. But now, with online schooling becoming less like a distant probability and more like a reality, teens are having a difficult time coping and evolving with their current academic issue.
Within the current situation, the only big thing that teens can truly do to stay in touch with others is to use social media platforms. A huge part of many social media platforms is the ability to have group chats or video chats. These are very important because they help teens communicate to each other in ways that are both useful and healthy. Group chats are great for getting to know many people you previously did not know. Video chats, on the other hand, are great for teens because it enables them to talk to each other in a way that is somewhat similar to face-to-face interaction. These social platforms help teens stay healthy in a time that is most troubling while enabling a safe interaction that will not hurt anyone.
Although these may be troubling times and it can seem easy to look at the issues in the world, people must not forget what truly matters: friends. Without each other, teens will have a tougher time in what is currently happening. Everyone needs a shoulder to lean on sometimes, but now it is of utmost importance.
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