On March 13, 2020 students were delighted when they heard that school was going to be online for two weeks due to a virus; however, little did they know that those two weeks would turn into years of wearing masks and social distancing.
Since then the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everyone's social lives because of the isolation and constant uncertainty. At Eastern Christian High School, two students and a teacher have different perspectives about what they have observed or what they have gone through socially from the pandemic.
Jack Veenema, a senior at EC, felt that the shutdown in March 2020 led him to keep in touch with a few people while he lost touch with others. He felt the isolation created people to become more comfortable with having smaller friend groups.
“Since the pandemic I feel like a lot of people have become more cliquey because they have strong feelings about recent world events, which creates them to group together,” says Veenema.
Similarly, Mrs. Genuario noticed the same phenomenon. She strongly feels that restrictions have made it difficult to build and maintain relationships.
“If we go back to Summer 2020 there was a great amount of fear of doing in-person school, so families chose to be close with one or two people which then led to smaller groups in the school year,” says Mrs. Genuario.
She observed that at the first homecoming dance since the pandemic brought extreme excitement and anxiety. She thinks it was this way because of the uncertainty from COVID, which made the dance more hyped up than previous years.
“Students are having a hard time coping with stress, there is a good amount of anxiety from COVID, and there is fear that any moment something that they are planning could come crashing down,” says Mrs. Genuraio.
Also, social observations as a teacher led her to feel that some teenagers have become addicted to technology rather than socializing with others since the pandemic. She feels this could have led to a limited attention span, which has created a lack of socializing with others.
“Masks have been very damaging to cultivate true relationships, a source of humanity has been lost from not seeing each other's expressions and emotions,” says Mrs. Genuario.
Maya Kingston, a new student at EC last year, has had a positive experience socially because school has been in-person. As an incoming freshman last year she was able to create stronger friendships even with the mask mandate. The volleyball program at EC allowed her to find a sense of community that she had lost from the pandemic.
Her mental health has improved because of in-person school because it has been easier to make friends. She felt that in times of quarantine she was able to see who her true friends were which has been a clarifying experience.
"As a new student, the limitations of masks have helped me to get out of my comfort zone as I try to express myself," says Kingston.