New Perspective: Students of The Pandemic

Three perspectives from students from other states in regards to schools handling of the pandemic

Isabella McDavid

Perspective is an agent given to people to be able to empathize with fellow men. In simplest terms, being able to have a perspective is human. Though the ability to truly understand one another’s perspective can often be skewed either by personal bias or simple censorship within media. In an attempt to provide a broader perspective to the students of The Morgan School, The PawPrint has gathered three students from different states to provide their perspectives on the current coronavirus conundrum and how schools have handled this.

Valencia High School

Max T. from California

Senior Max T. hails from California, one of the highest-ranking covid infection points with a total of 3 million plus cases. They attend Valencia High School in sunny California. Valencia’s campus is open face and resembles a college campus and has a class size of 2,868 from 9-12.

I: Name?

M: Next option.

I: umm.

M: Do I have to give my school name?

I: I can put you down as Max T.

M: Ya Max T is good.

I: Age?

M: 18 years old

I: Grade?

M: I’m a senior.

I: The current school you go to?

M: Valencia High school in Santa Clarita California

I: Do you have an open campus or a closed in campus?

M: It’s an open campus.

I: How would you describe the layout of the campus?

M: Well- uh it’s basically a bunch of, we call them bungalows. a bunch of classrooms that are grouped together and there are no hallways at all. It is just classrooms and open air.

I: Would you say that the school is highly populated?

M: Oh extremely, overpopulated even.

I: So, what does your current school structure look like, post covid?

M: ssentially, we are going back on the 29th. Hybrid. So there are going to be cohorts. Cohort a will go Monday, Tuesday, and cohort b will be going Thursday and Friday. Wednesday is an online day for all schedules. But you can either choose to go back in person cohorts or you can go fully virtual.

I: So you guys have been home this whole year?

M: Pretty much ya. we’re just opening up the on-campus option.

I: Well, how has this system affected you?

M: Honestly- it makes getting school work done just the most difficult thing in the world. Cause there is no motivation to and the only reason why I would do school work in school because I didn’t want my teacher to give me that disappointed look, y’know?

I: I get that.

M: So it’s kinda like y’know I haven’t been turning in my work or anything like that because it’s so hard to care.

I: 2 months of math homework you have to make up for.

M: No, genuinely.

I: I know, I heard from Sam.

M: It was awful. Ya, so that’s essentially how it’s been goin’. with the uh- it’s been really bad on the mental health too.

I: Well, there you go. Getting into the next question. The mental impact this has had on you?

M: It’s made me so demotivated and so depressed. Like I know for me and my family, getting school work done is the most important thing, and like getting good grades. And um the fact that I’ve been so demotivated and having these bad grades, cause I’ve been so demotivated to turn stuff in has made me extremely depressed. I honestly felt like a failure, especially as a senior.

I: Ya..are there any positive you can think about the system or no?

M: Y’know. I will say, a lot of my teachers have something called a soft deadline. essentially you can turn in any of you’re late work, and you’ll still get full credit because they know how hard it is. and I, personally like working at my own pace. It’s really nice to work at my own pace and have a day off if I want to have a catch-up day to get in my work. Cause sometimes, I’ll get this random burst of motivation that makes me want to get my work done, and that’s what I do.

I: So something you wish could be changed about this system?

M: I-I wish they wouldn’t give so much work. Just because we are not in person doesn’t mean you should give so so much work. I also think there should be more resources for students um struggling with mental health issues. I know one of my teachers last semester did not understand people struggling with mental health issues at all, so i definitely think that should be something that is addressed.

I: But you can say that teachers are also suffering mentally as well.

M: Oh absolutely. I think there should be resources for both students and teachers. I know a lot of my teachers have had a real rough time, and I think there should be resources for teachers and students, but I think that they should both mutually understand each others going through stuff. So like y’know students should be more respectful to teachers, and not being absolutely awful to them, and teachers should be more respectful to students and understand that they will not be able to turn stuff in if they are having a rough day.

I: So taking a little bit of a step back, state-wide. Do you think that covid has been a big concern in your state or are just not that many people concerned?

M: It’s- to be honest pretty 50/50. And I- Not to be political- Certain red areas in the state are definitely more anti-mask than the blue areas. And certain red areas of the state are very against Gavin Newsom, and the blue areas are more like “hey, we should be more careful about covid.” It’s definitely 50/50 depending on where you are, and California is such a massive state um it’s very very split.

I: Is there a mandatory mask order in your state?

M: I think there is? Ya, Californians must wear masks in public spaces. Yup.

I: So, now going back to mental health. Do you think that schools understand mental health at this time?

M: No, I don’t think they get it at all. I mean there’s an effort being made. But, it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough. It’s-They-It’s a lot of performative. Like they’ll post things on Google Classroom like “here’s mental health resources- anyways you have four essays due at the end of this week.” Ya and that is how it is, it’s very performative, and it feels like they’re not even..listening or even care, just that they want to look good.

I: Would you say that schools care more about their image and grades rather than their actual students?

M: You’d be a fool if you actually thought they cared about their students. No, I remember so specifically like one of my teachers was like, “ya the reason why we care so much about attendance is because we get paid depending on how many people are in school.” And it’s like- no, they absolutely care more about their appearances and money and grades. If you honestly genuinely think that a school- That an institution cares about the people? No, no honey. I will say before the school shut down they tried to make an active effort to work on mental health, and they had the wellness room where any student that were stressed or having a panic attack could go in there. And they usually had a teacher supervisor which was usually one of the English teachers. And English teachers are usually the ones who understand and I think the on-campus resources have been getting better, but then it just all went down the drain with covid. There are no, online resources anymore.

I: Since this is getting into a talk about general mental health, how can school improve during times like this?

M: Let me just preface this. I am 18 years old. I’m not a psychologist, however, personal opinion from someone who is mentally ill-Ya no, soft deadlines. That is the biggest thing they can give us. Soft deadlines for students and if notice a student is struggling or not turning in work, go like “Hey are you okay? do you need more time? or extra credit.” And the biggest stressor when I’m talking to my friends is grades. It’s too much work or grades. [redacted] like that.
They gotta help out with grades. Especially with seniors because y’know we have to apply for college and stuff like that, and extending a hand and going “do you need extra credit? Or help applying for college?” that’s the biggest thing.

I: Well, I think that’s all I have, thank you for your time.

M: Thank you.


Pottsville Area High School

 Sam J. from Pennsylvania

Junior Sam J. hails from Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has a total of 1.03 million covid cases. They attend Pottsville Area High School that stands as a modern-day Labrinth with the school having a total of 5 floors. The high school has a population of 969 students in the classes of 9-12. 

I: So let us start with the basics, what is your name?

S: My name is Sam or Sam J.

I: What grade are you in currently?

S: I am a junior in high school. so 11.

I: What school do you currently attend?

S: That would be Pottsville area high school in Pottsville PA

I: Pottsville, that’s a funny name, um what state is that?

S: Pennsylvania, everyone just says PA over here

I: We already got the easy questions out of the way, so let’s kind of jump into it. So a little bit of background on your school, is your school an open campus or enclosed?

S: Um, it is enclosed. We have the elementary school, middle school, and high school building being about two miles away from each other. The highschool being the biggest.

I: Okay, how would you describe the layout of your school? If you are able.

S: Um well, Labrinth, etc.

I: I want to find David Bowie there.

S: I’ve never seen that movie, Sloane(Their current partner) keeps telling me to see it. It is a very confusing layout. there are five floors, the lowest is-like um-not like an underground, but it leads up to a little courtyard. That’s where the football field is. So there is the cafeteria and the publications, or newspaper room. If you go up one floor there is the ground floor and then you keep going up there is floor one, two, and three.

I: Wow. that’s a lot.

S: Not very enjoyable, when you have lunch lab on the third floor its a bit-

I: Ya, I can imagine having a class on the first floor and then having to the fifth for your second.

S: There have been many times- when I was in genetics- all of the science classrooms are on the third floor, and we eat lunch in the cafeteria. So halfway through my lunch period, I would have to climb all the way to the third floor for a lab about two times a week. So it’s not very fun. The nurse’s office is also very very far.

I: So what would you say-how populated is your school?

S: Um, apparently we have 969 students. Ya so um as of two years ago we have 969 students.

I; Oh, wow.

S: So there would probably be about a thousand people in the building at full compacity.

I: Currently at your school right now what does your school structure look like post covid? Is it a hybrid or everyone at home?

S: Well, actually this week is our second week where- we were doing a hybrid schedule for a while. So you could either come in twice a week or stay home full time. I have been home full time for a few months now, and I am still home full-time, but I only probably go in for rehearsal for the drama club. But this is our second week of everyone being in school or people just staying at home. Which, is not going very well.

I: What’s the problem with it?

S: We have 49 students that have to quarantine as of today.

I: Is there not an inforced social distance policy?

S: They have been trying to, but the problem is we have quite a few people, and the classes aren’t very large. And people aren’t following guidelines. And ya so I got to rehearsal, and approximately five minutes into rehearsal, two of our cast members were called into the office and sent home because they were sitting near someone that had to quarantine. It’s unfortunate because they were the leads, but they will be back in time for the show. Which is good, but it was still a little frightening.

I: So stepping back a little bit. With your state, how would you say it has handled covid? Do they take it as a big priority or a small priority or in the middle?

S: So my town is not doing great, my county has not been doing great. Pennsylvania has had a lot of cases. But as far as-y’know there are a lot of Amish communities in Pennsylvania. I have no idea how they are handling it. I hope they are okay. But there is this disconnect where we don’t know how they are doing, and they don’t know how we are doing. Pennsylvania Dutch culture is wild, but I think we are doing okay. At least we aren’t the worst.

I: So It’s kind of in the middle? As in it is kind of improvement but not really?

S: Eh, I would say-I think the schools are handling it pretty poorly, but everyone else is handling it pretty fine.

I: So in regards to school handling covid, what is your- well you might have already answered it, but what is your general idea of how they have handled it? especially in your state.

S: I am not particularly a fan of this is being handled especially my school board, in particular, is known for not being good. So, y’know we were all very worried because the board is a mess. The middle school went back in person two or three weeks before the high school did, and on the first day, 13 kids had to quarantine. Yknow so it’s just not been handled well.

I: So on that note, what would you want to change about it? what do you want to see them try to do?

S: Yknow, I think the hybrid schedule was helping at least for now. The thing is they are trying to get us back into school, but it’s in the middle of March and school ends in like 2 and a half months. At this point, just keep people as safe as possible instead of being like you guys have to go back into the building for eight weeks. I don’t see the point, but I would definitely prefer going back to the hybrid schedule so we don’t have almost 50 people having to quarantine.

I: Now that we talked about that, I’m going to go to the impact of this all. You don’t have to go too deep into anything. I just want to know the general impact that this whole situation has had on you. Like covid, school. All of this.

S: Well, I have seasonal depression. And it has been interesting, to say the least. Because y’know my grades are already something that I struggle with um around December to March. And it was a few weeks ago that it kind of felt like the sun was shining and was like “I feel better already” but covid has definitely not helped.

I: There is a lighting period.

S: Ya, I said to Sloane, “I’m defrosting; give me a moment” I called them and sobbed for an hour. Just full-on balling. y’know but um the situation with covid has been so interesting because my grades have been much better when I’m staying at home. Which is so weird. And I feel like everyone’s grades have either tanked or are doing so much better. And that might be attributed to people cheating more at home.

I: You had to say it. It’s got to be said.

S: It has to be said though. It’s definitely been- with covid I didn’t leave the house all winter. At all cause I wasn’t in school, in person. Basically, I was going to bed at 6 am and waking up at 1 pm to the one required zoom class. And that was for months. And my sleep schedule is terrible, but my grades are fantastic. So I would say that covid has created this thing where better grades but mental health is so weird. Not only seasonal depression and I struggle a lot with dissociation. And I explained with my therapist a while ago, y’know the problem with covid is that it just feels so surreal. You don’t know what’s happening or what’s going to happen, and things can change overnight. And y’know for people who struggle with derealization or who aren’t good with change, that’s definitely been a huge impact on mental health. Oh, like everything is different, so suddenly. And how I explained it to my therapist was that I feel like I am living in a dystopian novel.

I: I’ve heard a lot of people describe it like that.

S: Ya, no it’s just that. It’s just not very good writing, too many plot holes. So it definitely has an impact for sure.

I: Do you think the schools care about mental health?

S: No. (The interviewee shared a rather personal mental health story at this point so I decided to leave it out) I have never felt like-I don’t feel like the school as a whole feels about my mental health but I have some wonderful teachers. Y’know my director especially. But the thing is they have no idea now. Y’know teachers can look at kids in class and be like “aw that kid looks sad today I should talk to them after class”. There is none of that at all. I don’t think my English teacher knows what my face looks like, and it’s such a surreal thing because I’ll hear about these teachers being so nice and so considerate of student’s mental health, and there is none of that connection there. By the school as a whole does not care at all. Not an ounce.

I: To add to that, there is a question that a lot of teacher and the school itself doesn’t really care about the kids and really just care about grades or social status.

S: Mmm, I’d have to agree. I mean like I said, some teachers reach out and feel very kind but most of the teachers that I have had do not care or have made my mental health worse. And of all the times I was depressed it was never a conversation of your grades are going down, hey, are you okay but rather a discussion on my grades going down and that I don’t care. I think that’s a big thing. That teachers assume that students just aren’t trying or don’t care, instead of going “do you need to talk or need to reach out”

I: I’d assume though, it’s hard for teachers to reach out. Because they can’t really talk to kids now.

S: That’s what I’m saying, ya. My friend Sadie had my English teacher last year, and she loved her, but I have that teacher now, and I feel completely impartial to her. Another thing with covid that is weird is that you can tell that your teachers aren’t doing mentally well either. But it’s weird cause my mom is a special ed teacher and you see the teacher’s perspective of kids are cheating and not being able to do anything about it but also from the student’s perspective, why wouldn’t you cheat at least a little bit. The problem is it’s not that these kids aren’t capable, it’s just that there has been less of a sense of pride in one’s work.

I: I mean that makes sense, it’s hard to take pride in your work when again your mental state is so low and you can barely take any pride in yourself.

S: Definitely that, and it just might be a disconnect because of all the technology involved.

I: True, cause I know some visual learners that are stuck at home and can’t do anything.

S: Ya, so what do you do? you look up the answers, cause when you are at home there really is no visual learning. You just get to a point where you give up on the learning and just get work done. I also think that is a thing too. There has been no learning this year. There is just getting work done.

I: I’ve felt that a lot.

S: But ya I have learned nothing from school today. I have just learned about random animal facts that I have learned on my own.

I: Well, I think that is a good note to leave this off on. Thank you for your time and infinite wisdom.

S: Ya, that was genuinely really fun. I hope I helped some.

I: Ya, you helped a lot thanks.

Alliance Academy for Innovation

Hannah B. from Georgia

Junior Hannah B. hails from Georgia. Georgia has a total of 1 million plus covid cases. Hannah’s school is much like The Morgan School, with its enclosed design and box-like facade. A previous CrossFit star, Hannah stands as an average student. She attends Alliance Academy through innovation in Georgia with a population of 496 students in the 9-10 class.

I: Name?

H: Hannah.

I: Are you fine if I put you down as Hannah B?

H: Ya.

I: What is your grade?

H: I am in eleventh.

I: What school do you currently go to?

H: Alliance Academy through Innovation.

I: What state?

H: Georgia.

I: Is your school an open campus or an enclosed campus?

H: It’s a closed space.

I: How would you describe the layout of your school?

H: Um, let me picture it in my head. Okay so, all three floors are pretty much the same. The lunchroom is on the second floor and the gym is on the first. So how it is set up, there are two hallways at each end of the school so if you are looking at either side that is where a hallway is. And there are about three lines that are connecting the hallways from one side to the other. And that is pretty much how each floor is set up.

I: What would you say the population is like?

H: There are a lot fewer students than the average high school in my county.

I: So how has your school structure changed due to covid? Are you guys on a hybrid schedule or full remote?

H: It’s a hybrid. Students can choose to go online. They have chosen to go online at any point in the year. Either they start online or they finish online, or they finish in person. Al sorts of stuff like that.

I: Is there anything inherently negative about the system that’s been put in place?

H: Um, I don’t- I don’t think so. I have not been quarantined, and I know a lot of people that have, and they say that it’s really sudden and messes up their work schedule. But it hasn’t happened to me, so just- I think the planning could have been better, but I think I can forgive that because the whole situation was so sudden to us.

I: So taking a step back, how do you think your state has prioritized covid relief?

H: Well, it is Georgia so…I live in a very well-off county. It’s highly populated, which correlates with political views, I guess, but Georgia as a whole um I could say could do better.

I: So it’s not much of a concern for a lot of people?

H: Ya, not as much.

I: Is there a mandated mask policy over there?

H: They try to enforce it. They encourage it definitely, but they can’t force masks on the students, and they can’t do it with the teachers either. I can’t name names, but a teacher I had earlier this year um they wouldn’t wear a mask. They would just wear a face shield, which isn’t as bad as just not wearing one.

I: I mean it’s still equally as bad.

H: Mhm.

I: So the students and teachers don’t have to wear masks at school?

H: No, it’s not required.

I: Is it not required by the state or just the district?

H: I don’t think it’s required by the state either.

I: Wow.

H: Well, it might have been required a while ago. I know Texas lifted it. I don’t think Georgia did? Ya, I don’t think Georgia requires it.

I: Is there a big quarantine rate at your school?

H: It fluctuates, um I know before our Christmas break, we had to quarantine for a week before the break started because it got so bad.

I: Is there any social distance policy that is encouraged at the school?

H: Ya, it’s another thing that is encouraged, but they can’t quite control it as they can with masks. Cause my school, in particular, is really small compared to others. Y’know the hallways are smaller. But I do know at lunch, we do have to sit like limited people per table y’know.

I: So taking a step back, how has all of this mentally impacted you?

H: I gotta say, I haven’t felt this bad? I haven’t felt this-ya I’m gonna stick with bad. I haven’t felt this bad since ninth grade. But this isn’t because of personal issues. It’s more about everything, and I think that is what is making this worse for me, personally. I just- I’ve felt more vulnerable this year than any other year.

I: Do you think the schools care about the student’s mental health?

H: I-I my school in particular. I don’t think I’m allowed to say it. (pause) I can’t say it. Cause something happened and the students weren’t supposed to know, but I know someone who does know because a teacher told them and just-Anyway, do they care about student’s mental health? I’m going to say that my school makes-Cause I haven’t experienced any other high school right now, but I think my school has made a bit more of an effort than others.

I: There is a question that if schools care more about their status or image rather than their students.

H: Their image?

I: Their scores and stuff like that.

H: Can it be for school in general?

I: Sure.

H: I- the thing is I care if the school, any particular school, takes care of their students that’s what I like to see. And I really care about what people graduate from it, but I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff. I know it’s more concentrated or specific with other schools because they have been successful or they’ve been less successful. But there are schools that are kind of in-between that, that care the most about their students.

I: Well, I think that is all the questions I have thank you.

H: Mhm