A Different Type of Monotony: High School in the Time of COVID-19

June 2, 2020

This article is provided by guest writer and winter/spring semester Commander-in-She intern, Thy Pham.

April tends to be the slowest month for me. 

Whereas January, February, and March would disappear in a blink, April stays behind like a rude houseguest.

Well, this April just proved me wrong. 

At least in school, I was able to keep track of the days and have some sense of time. 

But now? With COVID-19 trapping me in my house and online school keeping me at my desk, a day disappears in a blink of an eye. Coupled with the fact that I repeat the same actions nearly every day, I think I’m in a real-life Groundhog day situation.

I’m a homebody, so in other cases, I wouldn’t mind staying indoors for entire months. However, right now I’m also a high school student. And like other fellow students, I am currently doing online classes. So instead of this being a relaxing time for me, online school feels like a party with my parents: it’s all fun and games until I remember that they, too, are present.

I know I’m not the only person struggling with the duality of having both home and school in the same place.

The one thing that kept school entertaining for me was my friends and now, it’s hard to stay engaged in class because of the virtual interactions. Especially since I no longer have to fight my desire to sleep in class, I can tune out any time without facing any embarrassing repercussions. Of course, I still try hard and do my homework on time, but the lack of incentives and intensity is really demotivating. 

However, there are a lot of benefits to online school as well. To start off, there’s remarkably less stress. I used to need a large iced coffee to keep me focused. My eye bags were the color of French hydrangea flowers from the daily four hours of sleep. Now? I can wake up at 9:59 a.m.!

To say that my body is recovering from the brutal fight with Junior year first semester is an understatement; I am in the prime of my teenage years. 

When we all started this online schooling, everyone thought there would be piles of homework so we’re surprised by the light amount. Additionally, for possibly the first time in my academic life, there’s less focus on testing. Sure, we still have to take them so students don’t fall out of the habit. However, all testing nowadays are open notes, which is a tremendous relief for me. I don’t have to worry about memorizing facts or concepts anymore. For me personally, I feel like I could learn more in this situation. Instead of cramming notes the night before, I could now look them over and actually understand them when I take my tests. 

On that note, I would also like to point out the amazing job teachers are doing. A number of my teachers are reaching out to connect with students despite the virtual border. They have been extremely helpful and always sought to provide us with any extra information. Many assignments are actually more fun now. For example, my physics class played a review Kahoot game. My English class is now reading a play through Google Hangouts.

Additionally, group activities seem less stressful now. For most of my classes, the teachers would split us into groups and have us talk on different Google Hangouts. I feel much better talking to my friends like that and not having to feel someone staring at me. 

There’s also a lot of downtime now. Once AP exams are over, I can freely indulge in binge-watching shows (to a greater degree now), napping, reading books, catching up on new movies, napping, exercise, painting, and oh, did I mention napping? I’ve learned how to cook (finally!) and rediscovered my love for puzzles.

Despite it all, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I really miss how things used to be and how optimistic I was for senior year and even my college experience. But at the end of the day, it could be much worse. 

I’m thankful everyone I know is safe and there’s a bunch of brave people out there working hard to rectify this situation.

I also know this won’t be forever; eventually, this long twiddling period will end, and the dull––but very much missed––period of normalcy will be back. 

Thy Pham is a high school junior who enjoys biking and is interested in pursuing a pre-law path.

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