Covid-19 in GSHS Community

Covid-19 in GSHS Community

Pilar Melendez, Morgan Reed, Kyley Fishman, Editor, Editor, Editor-in-Chief

Clearly, this school year has been like none other before. Freshmen are experiencing their first year of high school from the comfort of their homes, and seniors have already missed out on their homecoming. The decision between actually going back to experience school, and the fear of getting sick and spreading it is a struggle for many.

Along with the quarantines in our school already taking place, other schools in the Roaring Fork Valley have also been experiencing mass quarantines and some have even taken drastic measures to deal with the rising numbers. Roaring Fork High School went back to online learning 100% as of November 9th. Basalt Elementary School transitioned 25 students to distance learning as of yesterday as well. St. Stevens has also gone completely online again as well, making the number of open schools smaller and smaller.

“I do want to go back, but I mostly don’t because I would rather go when it is safer and you don’t have to worry about bringing Covid home,” said freshman Amanda Dehm.

Sophomores have also felt this way, despite having dipped their feet into high school water. The overall consensus among students is that virtual learning is very difficult, especially for upperclassmen, but the struggle of online seems to be overshadowing the benefits of going back to in-person school. Even those outside of the Glenwood Springs High School community are having doubts about returning.

“Absolutely not,” said Nathanial Tommaso, a Coal Ridge student. “Coal Ridge brought us back at the beginning of the year and nothing has come from it. There are more restrictions and regulations that we have to follow, and to be honest, I was less stressed when distance learning was in effect.”

However, despite the general agreement that going back would be more beneficial, juniors seem to worry about peers who won’t follow rules, or are worried they won’t learn the material required to pass their classes. This is a common fear that is seen throughout the high school grade levels.

“I believe there are ways to return to school in a safe manner – and yes, this would require actually enforcing the rules for once,” said junior Katelyn Brennan.

“I have no doubt that the district will keep students safe,” junior Jillian Bray said. “I’m more worried about students who don’t want to follow the required safety measure.”

Although virtual school has been difficult for everyone involved, most students feel that having a more structured school schedule is necessary to get more done.

“I have hardly learned anything,” junior Ethan Fergan said, “so although I’d rather stay home, I need to go back for my academic wellbeing in the long run.”

The most conflicted about returning or not, as well as how well the school will be handling the virus while the cases are increasing, seem to be the seniors. Opinions and concerns vary further than just about productivity or students who will refuse to abide by guidelines if they are to return. Seniors are facing college applications, Capstone, AP course load, varying work schedules, clubs, and volunteer work.

College visits especially look different for the senior class, but colleges seem to be doing as much as they can to keep potential applicants informed and motivated. Although students can’t go onto campus, institutions are offering virtual tours and more accessible ways to connect with admissions and current students.

“[Colleges] have done a really good job providing resources for high school students who might want to attend their schools,” said Senior Natalie Rahmeier. “I have gone to a couple of virtual tours and virtual information sessions that have provided a lot of useful information, and have gotten me more excited to apply to these schools.”

Although many students are disappointed they’ll be missing out on the normal college search, some are starting to understand that restrictions are necessary.

“Saving the lives of Americans is more important than me visiting colleges,” said senior Mahlon Mitzel.

Everyone has had to relearn how to be students, and it’s been easier for some than others. Yet, the general consensus is that for a group of people who have been in public school since kindergarten, making the transition to homeschooling has been more difficult than anticipated.

“I feel like with online school I have been struggling to pay attention in class,” said Rahameier. “It is hard to pay attention in a class where there are no discussions with my peers, and barely any close interactions with the teachers. That said I do have a couple of teachers that do a really good job of trying to engage the class in discussions, like Mrs. Smalley.”

Because of other commitments, such as clubs and jobs, it is harder for students to find time to reach out for support. Along with this, Covid has also made students lose opportunities and community experts due to the company/person not wanting to increase the chances of getting it. Although teachers and counselors are organizing office hours to help students, finding a time that works for everyone is still difficult. Students are also deprived of Crew time, which would have been a time block solely dedicated to working on Capstone.

“I honestly don’t even know much about how to do capstone since it’s all online largely in part to the fact that we are online,” said senior Maizy Post. “I feel like the fact we have to do the capstone lessons independently is going to make the whole process a lot harder, especially since a teacher won’t be readily accessible to help or motivate you.”

The concerns of the senior class do not end there. Many of our students feel overwhelmed and unsure about the future because of what these unique times have prevented them from experiencing. Senior year is supposed to be the highlight of highschool. Students wait four years to become top dog, but this year they’ve missed out on any ‘go out and have fun’ time that is a right of passage to college.

“This year has left me unprepared for the future,” said senior Skylar McLaren. “Not only has it been a challenge to prepare for college but it’s been difficult to not be in school with my class for our senior year. I think most seniors can agree with me when I say I feel more left out than left behind, yes we all are dealing with leaving highschool and applying to college is stressful even without a pandemic but most of all we are missing out on the stereotypical senior year. Because of this I don’t think most of us will really be prepared to leave. We don’t get any of our “lasts” and it doesn’t even seem like it’s our final year in highschool.”

The desire to have their ‘lasts’ is what is most strongly unifying the senior class, as they’ve already missed their last first day of school and their last homecoming. This year’s senior class remembers being freshman and looking up to the upperclassmen, but the freshmen this year don’t even know who the seniors are. Part of the senior experience is simply walking to halls knowing you’ve finally made it to the last year of high school, that all of your hard work is finally about to pay off.

“I do not feel prepared at all,” stated senior Macy Dehm. “I feel like feeling unprepared is common among seniors, but because of everything that’s happened this year I feel so behind and so terrified for graduation.”

“As a senior that is getting ready to leave the valley and apply for college… I’m not as happy as I thought I would be in past years when thinking about college,” senior Lexi Bicchon similarly stated. “Right now, I feel overwhelmed. I can’t really say whether or not I feel ready for life after school… I feel as if I just have to figure it as I go and that really scares me.”

Compared to other students, a statement that often came up was that not returning back to school meant having to sit in front of a screen for longer periods of time during the day, and a detrimental change to students schedules, with (unsurprisingly) no input from the student. Some felt that they were being punished if they didn’t return to in-person school.

You don’t get as many classes, nor as many credits as you and you should get,” said freshmen Charlee Fishman. “They should try to make it as similar to in-person schooling as possible, with safety guidelines. But if you don’t go back into school, then you’re stuck with not learning the lesson as well as other students. Online school is already hard to deal with, but you’re pretty much going to be forced to not learn as well if you stay online.”

As we continue to move forward, school has been back in session for about a week and half. While the school obviously has taken safety precautions (extra hand sanitizer and hand washing stations at the end of most hallways), there has already been a quarantine of more than 20 students and about 155 students in total going back to online learning.

“I don’t want to risk the health of my family members or myself anymore,” said the same anonymous senior. “There isn’t much social distancing happening at school anyway. Passing period is outside where people gather without their masks on and other students cannot take their masks off. There is cluttering around the doorways when students are going back to class. It doesn’t feel safe, at least 3 other students that are in my classes have been quarantined and more than one teacher has been as well.”

While we are back at school, we need to be mindful of the spread in our community and in our state.

Any other concerns, please contact principal Paul Freeman or your counselor. Roaring Fork school district, released a dashboard with raw data about COVID-19 cases, you can access the dashboard here.