Some students still wrestling with transition from virtual schooling

For some, adapting to a school environment long forgotten is no easy task, with many students not being in a physical school for close to two years, and after three weeks of classes, the adaptation to what seems “normal” continues.

Virtual campus changed some students’ perspectives on the world. Their mental health was negatively affected over the course of COVID-19 quarantine, and the adaptation to the new physical school environment this year is only causing more mental distress and general anxiety.

Completely virtual students made up 43 percent of total students in kindergarten through the senior year according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and 16.3 percent of all schools around the globe were completely virtual as of last year. This corresponds to about 20.63 million students being completely virtual, globally, up until February of 2021.

Sophomore Elene Kodananshvili, one of the completely virtual students in 2020, said, “Virtual campus had a couple of good sides. You were able to do things at your own pace. You could do your work anywhere at home, and you could have snacks whenever, but that’s basically where the positives end.” 

She said, “It was an extremely difficult school year. Everyone had their individual struggles, but I think it was mainly the stress of having to do so much work and having to find the motivation for it within yourself. The stress that everyone endured definitely couldn’t have been good for their mental health. I honestly felt like one of those cracked and scratched up phones that ‘still works.’”

Sophomore Mila Haynes had a similar opinion. “I was super stressed last year because I felt that I wasn’t receiving the support that I needed during virtual learning. It’s hard for everyone to learn in that environment, so most of us needed extra support when we were receiving less than usual.”

Although the stresses of a virtual school year were rough for some, adaptation to a physical environment is also bringing a large amount of distress among students like senior Alexia Downs. “Physical school, in general, stresses me out because it’s a lot more common to have to interact with others, which is something that makes me anxious. I also have to worry about the days I come in late to school (which is something that I need some days because of my chronic migraines) because I didn’t have to worry about being ‘late’ to the online class because Zooms lasted a little less than an hour. Schoolwork was a lot easier to complete so I had more time to dedicate to taking care of myself and resting, though, with school, I can’t be late too often or else I’m going to miss a lot of in-class time.”

Weeks later, students are still adapting to a “new normal” in modern education. Some students are adjusting to the impact through their friends and family, and other means of support, like senior Caroline Schafer. “I think being able to see my friends and being back in person has definitely lowered my stress levels,” Schafer said. “It makes it easier to stay caught up in class.”

Sophomore Brady Ramsden-Meir said he feels similarly. “I had a huge increase in stress and a decrease in productivity. I think the reason for this is because I can’t work at my own pace with each subject and have to make sure to write down what assignments I need to get done. It could have been worse if I couldn’t talk to friends and had to work everything out by myself. It was hard getting started but I’m starting to get into the swing of things again. I’m still trying to get settled but I think the choice of doing school in person this year is a better idea than staying virtual.”

Junior Abigail Brodhead said she feels the same way about the transition from virtual campuses. “I think that the school environment is more stressful than being online. I feel like what causes this is the fact that there are more people, and at least for me, that stresses me out. I really wish that there could be more hybrid learning, say half online, half in person depending on the classes and such. A lot of my stress comes from school.”

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