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COVID-19 Resources and Recomendations Shared by Educators from our Global Community

I am delighted to share the following reflections submitted by my students as part of Global Student Project My Return to School During Covid19. My students look forward to reading their peers’ reflections from other Jesuit schools around the world.  Thank you!

Returning to School: Paul, 16, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
In my experience the Covid-19 pandemic has very much effected going back to school. Staying at home everyday staring a computer for 7 hours is a big change from going to school, interacting with your friends, and moving around. Instead of getting to really participate in class like I did when I went to school before the pandemic it is very hard to do any of that online because we can’t see everyone and be in a classroom setting. On top of this, it is really hard to differentiate a school space from a sleep and lounge around space, where you can do your work at your own pace. At home I was always used to being done with school and doing whatever, and doing my homework whenever I felt like it, it’s hard to go from that to making your home your workplace where you need to interact and participate in class on a fixed schedule. I expected to at least go back to school a little bit and hang out with my friends but his is much more severe than I thought.

Looking at the rules put in place for the safety of everyone I think it is a little severe but its in the best interest for everyone. I think that some sports should be starting up again that don’t involve too much contact, and maybe a little school where you stay far apart. But overall it is for the safety of everyone. But in disregard for the safety portion I think we should at least be giving kids some way of hanging out with our friends like going back to school for even a little bit, because sitting on a computer all day alone in your room is nothing close to the fun of going to school and really hanging out with your friends. Same with sports, I play baseball and that’s one of my favorite things to do with my friends, but I can’t because of the rules put in place. On the topic of indoor seating I don’t think that is as important as social interaction and mental health, so I think we don’t need to eat inside restaurants just yet. Also, I personally think that it is our own responsibility to stop the spread, it is our job to wear our masks and keep distance from others. I think if we keep this in mind and are conscious and cautious of the spread we can start things up again.

Returning to School: Philip, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
Quarantine has hands down been the craziest experience of my life. I truly feel like I have pressed a pause button on reality. While writing this, I learned that quarantine has lasted (at the time of writing) 198 days. My mind is blown. Reality as we know it is has completely changed. To me, the craziest thing about quarantine is the online experience. Put simply, it is weird. It is strange. We just started a new school year and with one exception, I know none of my teachers past a screen. I have never introduced myself, never
3shaken their hands. It is clearly unorthodox and has changed the very way in which I learn. However, with that being said, I must say that I have enjoyed online schooling. No, not because I can look at my phone during class, I enjoy it because it normalizes schedules. I groan now thinking about how much of a day is wasted driving to and from school or waiting for a ride home. Online schooling has given all student the unique opportunity to have waste free (if they choose) schedules. I go to class and do my homework. I am never in a car, and I can sleep until 30 minutes before class. I get to spend time with my family, go on runs and have more leisure time rather than sweating over schedules or sprinting to class. My sister is going off to college in a year, but with online schooling, I can maximize the amount of time I spend with her and the rest of my family. Except for lack of human contact, I think that online schooling has been a good experience for me.

My family makes fun of me for being what they call “a nervous nellie.” Can admit that I am overly paranoid at times when it comes to safety or “danger,” however, one topic I will not back down on if the discussion on whether or not to wear masks and socially distant. First off, I have to recognize that wearing masks and socially distancing are very separate topics, brought together so closely only by a common hate of them that is that they are both unideal. I say they are different mainly because of the challenge the possess. On one hand, wearing a mask is simple, but on the other hand, staying distant from friends, family, and events is hard, and even painful. To get it out of the way, wearing masks is undebatable. It is so easy to do, why complain? It may be kind of annoying, but I am used to it by now and constantly have a mask with me. However, social distancing is another story. I can understand not wanting to be distant. It is annoying. Not being able to spend time with friends, or see family, or go to sports games etc., it is painful. However, I think everyone needs to realize that it is for the greater good and must be done. For now, I think that as a society, we should not return to large events. We need to wait until there is a vaccine for Coronavirus and then we can return, and as unfortunate as it is, that will take some time. Restaurants should not completely open and society should not act like the coronavirus does not exist. We are responsible for our own safety and the safety of others.

Returning to School: Rishi, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
As our lives were suddenly dramatically reoriented, many of us were left behind. I think this effect was more pronounced in regard to the school situation, where many of our social bonds were fractured. For me especially, I lost a much of the connection with my friends. For my school, Bellarmine, we moved onto the virtual realm around mid-March. On the Wednesday evening the news was delivered, the long-term implications didn’t fully process in my head. I was simply feeling jubilation at the realization that I didn’t have to wake up at 6:30 anymore! One month into lockdown, I became 15 years old, celebrating without my closest friends. I, once again, didn’t really feel the despair I thought I would, until I envisioned what my birthday would’ve been if not for COVID. That was the moment I really felt sad that I wouldn’t be able to really enjoy my birthday with my friends. That afternoon, my mom surprised me with a video that my friends had created. They all wished me a happy birthday in the video, and I realized that even though we may not be physically together, we are still connected. During the summer of COVID, I grew a lot closer to many of my friends. Many whom I knew as acquaintances became good friends of mine. And even though we didn’t get to see each other face-to-face in school, we still saw each other on our Microsoft Teams calls. Even though school became a lot harder to keep up with, we still learned.

All the while, a debate spurred on about what we should do regarding the pandemic. We debated about whether masks should be mandated, whether a national lockdown should occur, how fast to reopen, and whether we should social distance. Being in a liberal and diverse school, and especially being on the majority-Indian and Asian speech and debate team, the people I interacted with generally agreed that there should be a national mask mandate, that there should be mandatory social distancing, etc. However, I do realize that there’s always two sides to a story. Reopening slowly, while maybe saving lives, comes at the cost of economic hardship for many small business owners. A national lockdown, while perhaps better for safety, comes at the cost of drastically re-adjusted life for all of us. While I still believe in a national mask mandate, social distancing, and the rest, I do understand why somebody would believe differently.

Returning to School: Ryker, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken countless lives across the world and affected others in many ways. Since everyone has been touched by the virus differently, I’d like to share my own experience. Earlier this year in late February when I first was informed of the corona virus, I was not very worried about it since I figured the virus would remain in China and blow over in a couple of weeks. However, I was proved wrong as cases in America spiked and I received an email that school would be continued remotely. At first, I was excited because I would no longer have to wake up early and I could conserve more energy, but I found out the negatives outweighed the positives. I could no longer see my friends or get the delicious cafeteria food, and online learning required more work to set up. Eventually, I finished the school year anticipating when we would return to school, and two months later we received news that the year would start virtually. I expected it to be similar to last year, and so far, it has been. Online learning hasn’t impeded my learning, but I do miss seeing people at school. Overall, learning remotely was a new and fun experience.

Speaking of seeing people, another thing that the corona virus prevented was large gatherings or hanging out with your friends. I think it is imperative to always wear a mask, because if you don’t, then you are part of the problem. Masks have been scientifically proven to greatly reduce chances of any transmission of the virus, so it is everyone’s responsibility to wear a mask and stop its spread. Since the virus affects US, it is OUR responsibility to put and end to it. For gatherings that are necessary like school assemblies, I believe they should be spaced out to allow people to go group by group so one room isn’t completely full or packed. The same holds true with restaurants: tables should be spaced out to support safe social distancing, and some locations even have expanded to outdoor dining. Ultimately, everyone should do the best they can to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since every community and individual is affected by it, it is everyone’s responsibility to help stop it.

Returning to School: Sam, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
As days past towards August, returning to school in-person looked likely due to the amount of research done and time passed since the pandemic started. I expected strict precautions when we got back and a multitude of testing, yet, as of now, neither of those are a reality. I had hoped that we would return to school because my social and athletic life has suffered greatly from this all. For example, since many of my friends believe that it is fine to be going out, sometimes unmasked, I am usually excluded because my parents do not see how the benefit outweighs the possible harm. As for online school, I have adjusted fine to the circumstances, but of course would prefer to be able to build relationships with my classmates and teachers in-person.

My school has done a great job of keeping everyone safe and building a sense of normalcy in this dreadful time. Our community as a whole, however, still, with over 200,000 Americans dead, treats the virus as if it is non-existent. There are some, like me and my family, that do their part to help irradicate the coronavirus by staying at home and practicing social distancing. Most, though, at least in my state, hang out with their friends and eat at places unmasked. Thus, I strongly think that people unmasked, and not social distancing are the reason that COVID-19 has impacted my country in such a devastating way. Further, I do not feel that scaling events back up, in consideration of the current condition of my county, would be the best idea. Evidently, I also think that opening up indoor restaurants would cause a surge in cases. Lastly, it is the entire United States’ responsibility to work together and realize that this pandemic will keep taking from us unless support each other.

Returning to School: Sebastian, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
My name is Sebastian, I am 15 years old and attend Bellarmine College Preparatory. My experience on my “return” to school was not very challenging for me. The only thing that I found was how we entered the meetings for school, besides that everything else I just got used to. I find that many things have changed through online school. I find there to be a greater workload, a different schedule and different way of learning. All these things I found were very easy to adjust too. A lot of things have changed since school in person. A lot of things I never really thought of. As to my knowledge, I do not think that I will return to school in person and will be online for the whole year, which I am okay with. I believe that it is better safe than sorry. As a person who does not go out and party, I do not feel that much has changed through my life during the pandemic. The only thing that feels different is doing school online, and by now I am already used to. I have not noticed any major change in my life since the start of the pandemic.

I believe that everyone should wear a mask in public places and do their best to social distance. This is a global pandemic and it affects everyone everywhere, and everyone should do their part in helping society to get things back to the way it was. I believe that everyone should do their part because everyone in society is affected. Many sources say that wearing a mask and social distancing plays a great effect in stopping the spread of Covid-19.

Returning to School: Will, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
With the recent COVID-19 pandemic, school has been alright for me. A couple of good things about returning to school is that since it is online learning, I get to get more sleep, and once the period is over, I get to do whatever I want in my home. Although, a bad thing about online learning is that my social interaction has decreased a lot. It seems like whenever I am talking to someone it is always on a phone or through a device. All these changes have been like what I was expecting. It was alright even though it was not the best. There were some negatives and there were some positives.

The debate about wearing masks and social distancing I think is valid and we need to do it. This is because this helps COVID-19 not spread as much as it is contagious. I personally do not think we should return to school with larger gathering possible for assemblies, mass, and sports. If someone had COVID and went to the large gathering and spread it to multiple people, then that means the process of recovering so that we get to go back to school will be slowed down even more. I think we should go back in large gatherings once we are sure that COVID is not a potential threat. I don’t think restaurants should have indoor seating because it’s riskier. It’s riskier because in the restaurant we are confined to a smaller space; however, if we eat outside it will reduce the chance of catching COVID-19. Overall, it is our responsibility to prevent COVID-19 from spreading as we control how we distance ourselves and do actions that decrease the spread of it.

Returning to School: Zain, 14, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
COVID-19 has drastically altered my life even if not as drastic as others. My return to school is pretty good and well organized. One of the many changes I experienced when I “returned” to school was that it was entirely online. For me, it makes it much harder to learn without the teacher actually being there in person. It is also pretty distracting because I have so many distractions around me, and it can sometimes get noisy. I’ve also had network problems where I wasn’t able to attend some of my classes, so I had to catch up on them. Overall, school is harder remotely rather than in person; however, I still firmly believe that we should keep learning remotely.

We are the ones responsible for COVID-19 because we just ignored it and hoped it went away, and eventually, it became a global pandemic. It is still our responsibility not to pass it on to other people, or to catch COVID. We should all wear masks and practice social distancing because if we do not do this, then we would cause the virus to spread quickly. Then more of us will get sick and there would be more casualties. I also believe that we should try to stay inside as much as possible because that way the virus would have a hard time spreading to everyone. As I said in the previous paragraph, we should not return to school especially all at the same time because that would cause the virus to go to everyone again. Restaurants should not have indoor seating for their customers because COVID has a very high chance of spreading through food especially because while eating, people do not wear masks. If one person coughs in a restaurant while everyone else is eating, then they might contract the virus. It is our fault for not taking COVID seriously when it first appeared; we must take it seriously now. Otherwise, many more people would pass away.

Returning to School: Zander, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 
Recently, COVID-19 lockdown has not been too bad for me. I often catch myself thinking about possible career choices and subjects I could major in. I also live in walking distance from two of my best friends. To me, it is a privilege to even see my friends in person, but I know that is not the case for many people, especially kids my age. While staying at home, I have gotten some good time in playing my favorite video games and listening to my favorite music. To be honest, my lockdown experience has not been bad at all. However, playing video games and listening to music cannot last forever. In recent weeks, my school has started a foundation for returning to campus. My feelings about going back to school are neutral. Going back to school and socializing with people in person would be great; although it would be hard for me to participate in class if some of my class’s teachers are not even going to be there. Plus, I would have to wear a mask all day. This “returning to campus” is way different then I imagined. I never thought that COVID-19 would ever become a global pandemic and last for as long as it has. I envisioned the return to campus being returning to the once known “normal.”

However, being at home in lockdown has rules everyone should follow to keep themselves and others safe. For example, I feel it is very necessary to wear a mask and social distance when in public. Not for others, but for your own safety. By wearing a mask, you can slow the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent you from getting the virus. Essentially, it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe and to slow the spread of COVID-19. Even if we do return to school, I do not think we should have large gatherings just yet. Though a lot of people and students want to gather in large quantities to celebrate a mass or a sports game, it is putting others at risk of getting sick. If someone in the crowd does have any illness but looks and feels fine, they could not be showing any signs just yet, but they can still be contagious. Also, with the reopening of society, I think restaurants should refrain from having indoor seating for now. Having people confined in an enclosed room, not being socially distant from each other could end up spreading more of the virus. Society does not need another break out of COVID-19, striking fear into everyone who is afraid of catching the virus and anyone who wants to retrieve some sort of normalcy. In the end, COVID-19 is just a virus, and this virus will pass over us some day. We can then return to our usual ways. By helping slow the spread, hopefully we will eventually retrieve some sort of normalcy that people have been craving for.