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Here are more 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: Sam, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

During Covid-19, my daily schedule has changed drastically. Before, I used to wake up at 6:15 in order to catch the train to go to school. I used to take the train home after school as well. Also, I enjoyed being able to hang out with friends during the school day whether that is between classes or during breaks. Ever since last March, when my school was closed down, things have changed in almost every aspect.

During last school year and the first semester of this one, school was all virtual. I woke up around 8:30, ate breakfast, then immediately jumped on the call for school. I only left my room once during the school day for lunch but other than that, i stayed hunched over my computer all day. However, as we enter 2021, things have changed yet again.

A new school schedule means that I must get up earlier. Also, because we have started to get some control over the pandemic, I have started a hybrid model for school. Now, I go to in-person school two or three times a week. But, to follow protocols, we must get tested frequently, stay over 6 feet apart, and follow paths to get into buildings. Overall, my schedule has changed so much from pre-covid and is still fluctuating now and is still going to change.

Returning to School: Shiven, 16, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

I have spent almost a year doing online school, in fact, I believe the year mark will be March 11th. As everybody can tell, hence this reflection, this time has taken a toll of my mindset. I used to rely on the competitive aspect of school to work to push myself. I wanted to have the highest grade in the class when papers were handed back, and I wanted to be able to humbly whisper my grade to curious classmates.

Since online school, quite frankly I’ve become lazy, and I’ve lost most of my motivation to do good in school and to be competitive. It’s become to the point where every time I learn a new concept in school, I quickly memorize it for an upcoming quiz, then I completely forget it, and I down myself in videogames and dopamine releasing actions. Although all this is the case, when I first stepped on campus again and I said hi to some of my friends, it showed me how much I needed and missed school. I hope to find that same competitive spirit soon, and I hope to become the same student I once was.

Not to ramble, I believe that everybody should be wearing masks and protecting each other. The world won’t change without teamwork, it simply cannot. If we aren’t there to help each other, we are the only ones who will way the price. It takes patience, and I understand it, but this pandemic will not blow over until we all take a part In a solution. I also believe that teachers and students should be taking the vaccine, for their sakes, and for the others around you. To be honest, I find it a little selfish that those who had access to the vaccine would not take it, but at the end of the day, it’s their choice.

Returning to School: Sid, 16, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA

I have noticed many drastic changes in health and safety policies at Bellarmine and around my community during this time when many people, including me, have returned to campus to participate in learning, extracurriculars and sports. The school has been very vigilant about COVID cases with mandatory testing and has done a great job of minimizing risk through directional passing halls and such policies. The school has surpassed my expectations in their safety and planning as they allow students back. In truth, I believe they have overdone some of the regulations to the point where some extracurricular activities are severely restricted in their abilities to achieve their goals. For example, the robotics team – which I am a member of – has found it difficult to coordinate the proper cohorts to efficiently build the robot. I know we are slightly behind due to the time restrictions allowed for the lab and the manpower at any given time. The most important thing I noticed, however, is that lack of social interaction allowed. I was hoping that the return to school would allow me to reconnect with my classmates, most of whom I have not spoken to in a year. However, I am glad the school has chosen to be safe rather than unprepared.

We should not return to school with large gatherings and events. Our first and foremost responsibility should be to stop the spread of COVID because of the terrible toll it has on families and seniors especially. I believe that at some point the vaccine should be government mandated for the safety of the entire population and eradication of the Coronavirus. People who wish to participate in the reinvigoration of the economy and intend to participate in gatherings should be mandated to receive the vaccine as soon as it can be administered to them.

Returning to School: Sriram, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

The United States and California have not been able to control COVID-19. As a result, school, sports, and most other activities have been cancelled. Time has been passing by really quickly, but it felt very hard at one point because I was struggling with keeping myself busy. I worked out a lot at one point because it made me feel good about myself, but I gave up on it and now I am trying to start up again.

Now with school starting up again, I’m probably not going to attend in-person as COVID-19 is still in the air. Online school may seem easier, but it is still very challenging. There is no way to tell when the WIFI is going to be down and explaining to teachers. Since I am new to the school, there are only a handful of students who I am friends with. COVID-19 has made it difficult to interact with other students to get to know them better.

COVID-19 has been ravaging the world and is also taking away fragile moments of students all around the world. I believe that returning to school in a large gathering setting would not be the right move. The point is to get rid of COVID-19 altogether but if we were to go as a large group, if one person tests positive it could affect a larger group of people which will affect even more people. I also believe the vaccine should not be required but should be strongly recommended. The vaccine, as a I witnessed first-hand, works but it takes a couple days, and those couple days are brutal. People come down with flu-like symptoms but that is just the vaccine doing its work. The vaccine should not be required because it can have a negative effect and it would be best to take all necessary precautions, such as staying six feet apart and so on.

Returning to School: Sullivan, 16, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

With the start of returning to school I realized that I truly miss going to school. While online, so many memories and experienced are corrupted and ruined due to a lack of emotion. I do not really seem to be motivated anymore and my “fun times” are not what they used to. Sports were a huge part of my freshman year and now there is not much to be played.

The overall online experience was not the greatest with lots of complications and slow learning. Looking at what the freshman are learning now, this is something that we did last semester when I was in their same class. Nothing will be the same and this moment will forever be engraved in our heads. Online school also gave me a great opportunity to focus on myself rather than so much on school. I was able to workout and gain a lot more confidence from it.

School in person obviously is not what it used to be, but it is still a ton of fun. Even though some of my friends are not at school when I am, I am able to still connect to others and have a good time. It is extremely safe here. With tons of people monitoring the campus making sure everyone is following the rules and staying safe.

As of today, it is my second fully geared football practice of the season. We are really making progress towards our season. I am so glad our sports are still able to get a little season in. Many people use sports as a outlet when their life gets hard. I am one of these people and when I am not having a good day, I can go to practice, work hard, and have a blast. In the end, the new experience is enjoyable, and makes me feel like life is a little bit normal.

Many places are not really hit that hard by the COVID-19 virus. My state is one of the worst and it took us a while to get back on our feet. Now things are starting to slow down, and life is starting to loosen up a bit. Doing the most that you can given your areas limits is important. If you are not trying to get back to life and what it used to be, then you never will. As long as it is legal going to school, playing sports, and many other things you should try to do these things safely. You should never go against the rules and this will most likely put you in an even worse situation. Starting with small changes is how we are going to get going.
School may not be for everyone, but the younger generation should try to push going to school. My mom is a teacher, and she sees how an online environment puts these kids behind and puts unnecessary pressure on them. Along with the younger kids, people with disabilities, physical and mental, need to also be trying to go back. If online school is harder going back in person should be their very first priority.

Now that people are starting to go back to school in person the question comes into play, should people take the vaccine? In my opinion the vaccine is safe and if it does not harm you, you should take it. Even though I feel this way, I do not believe it should be required. Some people need more time to think or they just have different views on it. If they are not taking it, it does not really affect anyone else if they already have it. If my teacher isn’t and I am, it would not bring a risk to me, it would only give a risk to my teacher. Personally, I believe in the work done on the vaccine and I would happily take it. In the end, it is your choice, but I strongly advise you to take it and I would happily take it. In the end, it is your choice, but I strongly advise you to take it.

Returning to School: Wenceslao, 16, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

My experience during this almost yearlong quarantine has been pretty ordinary. While attending classes through Microsoft Teams during school hours, I have been playing instruments, learning new languages, and cooking traditional Peruvian dishes during my free time. In addition to playing video games my biggest source of socializing with friends and delving into the world of Japanese culture such as anime and manga. Anyhow I feel that it is time to return to campus as I sometimes feel unmotivated and bored at home and reminisce all the fun times I had at Bellarmine. Since I am not really good at reaching out, many of the friendships I made during my freshmen year have since been severed, so I would like to reconnect with these people. I firmly believe I will soon be able to eat lunch with friends whilst playing Clash Royale and sharing chips or drinks as I trust in my school’s administration and actions regarding the Coronavirus.

We as a human species have been successful because of communication. We do not have sharp teeth or some type of venom to protect ourselves from other animals, but what we do have is the ability to socialize and communicate with one another in order to achieve a common goal. Hence, why we need to return to schools and assemblies to socialize and be more efficient at whatever task we are given. While it may be risky, we do have vaccines that have been fabricated in order to combat the Coronavirus available to us, unlike many other less developed countries around the world. That is why we need to take advantage of said vaccines and return to campus once all the student body and staff are vaccinated, even if it seems immoral to force those who do not want to. I believe the people need to drop their personal reasons as why they choose not to take the vaccine and “be a man or woman with and for others” as our school continuously reminds us to keep a safe environment for everyone.

Returning to School: Weston, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA 

See my return was a very good transition for me. I was very lucky and I was one of the first groups of people in person. I was coming 2 to 3 times a week and it was an amazing experience and I really enjoyed it. I met new people especially Freshmen and it was interesting to hear there point of view on these crazy times. However, I did not like the return to sports. The regulation was that you could only do one co-curricular activity. For me that meant I had to choose between baseball and ultimate frisbee. This really sucked for me and I had to decide which one would I rather do. I actually thought that it would have been awkward, but it was the complete opposite. All the teachers and staff were all welcoming everyone. Everyone seemed to have a better mood.

One thing that is a little irritating is the mask which brings me the case to the vaccines and masks. I believe that mask should be enforced and that gathering should be with people who feel safe and held to a max of 10 people. However, I do not think that vaccine should be required for students. This is because most students are safe as they are much healthier than other generations. Teachers I believe shouldn’t be required to have it, it should be optional. I believe that we should vaccinate everyone that needs it, then the people that want it. For example, I would rather vaccinate all the elderly and people with disabilities. Then teachers and students and the rest of the world.

Returning to School: Will, 15, Bellarmine College Preparatory, USA

I have experienced many changes in my “return” to school. Almost everything in my return to campus has been limited, the number of students, places to sit, interactions, food, etc. I think this has made my return to school a little bit underwhelming. I thought that when we turned to school that it would be everything back to normal, but I was very wrong, and rightfully so.

I had my doubts about the return to school, and that it would not be the same. These restrictions were definitely not what I was hoping for, but it is better than nothing. I still get to see some of my friends, be at campus, and go to classes almost normally. I am sad that school sports are not the same and that all the seasons are shorter, but I have still gotten to do club sports which has helped me a lot get through these COVID-19 times.
I think that everyone should return to school but be split in half like our school is doing. I think that it would be better if every student should return to campus, as it would help make everything seem a bit more normal. It would not be super safe to have everyone come at once so it would be a good idea to split the school in two groups, so it is a little less crowded and a bit safer. I do think that all sports should return, as what I have experienced, sports help pass time and distract you from COVID-19, and they also make you feel much better. Although that probably will not happen, I think it is a good goal to move towards to. I everyone should return to campus, then I think that all teachers and students should take the vaccine, so that everyone would be more safe and more protected from the coronavirus.