A COVID semester: Six perspectives


Emmy Angel


On September 1, 2020, students, teachers, and parents woke up earlier than they had in five months. 

   This was the start of a new chapter. School would probably look a lot different this year, and no one knew what to expect. 

   By 7:45, the high school was packed. The vibe was almost like a reunion. Although school was back in session, it looked a lot different. Everybody in the building had to wear a mask, social distancing was in place, classes were now two hours long, and there were now three different lunches. 

Here is a look at the unique semester from six perspectives.

Jr. Amy Lynch

  Lynch and her parents decided to have her do it online because she visited her grandparents a lot, and they did not want to risk getting COVID and passing it to them. She explains how COVID has affected her and her online school experience. 

   “A normal day for me would be to wake up around nine, start school and finish around noon. I then eat lunch and do school again until four. Some days are shorter than others; it just depends on the workload. I really enjoy being able to stay up late and sleep in.

    COVID has definitely changed my view on school. I feel like during online I am not as engaged with the learning. It has made me realize how independent and motivated you have to be to teach yourself. 

   Online school has also taught me how to procrastinate quite a bit, but I still manage to get my work done on time. One of the hardest things about being online is the distractions around my house. They make it hard to focus. Although the nice thing about online is that if I am confused or stuck, I can just look up the information, or watch a video. 

   I really wish I was in school with all my friends, I miss the socialization of in-person school. But my parents preferred me to do virtual this year, but I will definitely be back for senior year!”

Instructor Lindsay Walcott 

   Walcott is the broadcasting teacher at West Ottawa High School. She is very encouraging and always wants her students to do their best. This semester has been very different for her, but she has done everything to help her students succeed. Wally explained her experience this semester. 

  “My class is not a typical class, it is very hands-on learning and projects. We had to learn, find, and pay for a whole new online production platform. It’s called streamyard, and it worked out really well for us. Also everyone had to identify their own at-home video editor. We had to do a lot of preparations, and we worked on that the entire fall.

   I have not really seen a change in students’ grades from the shift from virtual to in-person learning. The students that were doing poorly before remote continued to do poorly. Although, I did see some issues when people got quarantined once or twice and missed a lot of school when we are all still in school. 

   Things are difficult; I feel like in general at least my students and myself are just grateful to be here, and we have also gotten really good at dealing with disappointments and setbacks. 

   I think that because we weren’t able to be here for so long, being here is something that I am very thankful for and cherish instead of sitting at home at my kitchen table.

   Every day I have been telling my students if you get quarantined don’t panic, don’t worry we will figure it out, because it can be super stressful if a student gets sent home and everyone is still at school. Quarantine is something I just don’t like, and I currently have a bunch of students out so it is hard on them, it’s hard on me.”

Parent Angie Angel 

   Angel is a West Ottawa mom. She has kids in elementary, middle, and high school. Last March she became her kids’ teacher, and then again in November. She and many other parents experienced online school from a different perspective. 

   “I had to learn to work from home, while also learning how to homeschool four kids. It was very hard to juggle and be successful at both. It has also been hard to make safe and smart decisions based on COVID safety as far as my kids having safe social interactions. 

   I would say I have not seen much of a change in my students’ grades this semester; fortunately, school comes pretty easy for them and they have adapted very well to the current circumstances. They have had to work harder, and do a lot more learning on their own, but so far they have been successful. 

   Although they are doing very well in school, I have definitely seen signs of depression when my kids are unable to have school events, social interactions, hang out with friends, and more. I have also seen an increase in the use of technology, online games, tv, and phone usage. I would much rather have their time be spent face to face with people. 

   Thanks to COVID, we have spent a lot more time as a family, been home more, tackled many house projects, and I have not been running 100 miles an hour every day and night. It has been nice to take a step back and enjoy quality time as a family.“

Fourth Grade Student Lydian Angel 

   Angel is a fourth-grader at Waukazoo Elementary. Due to COVID school has definitely looked different for her this year than it has in the past. But as a fourth-grader, COVID has not affected her as much r as it has for high school students.

   “I did not like online school. It took me so long to get all my work done, and then I didn’t get to have a lot of play time. It was weird seeing all my friends on zoom calls instead of seeing them in person.

   At school, we have to wear masks. Sometimes my teacher will give us a mask break outside. We all have to stand six feet apart in squares in the parking lot. We also don’t go to music, gym, art, computers, or Spanish; normally those teachers just come to our classroom instead. For recess we don’t get to pick where we play outside, we have different zones each day. 

   I really like going to school and seeing my friends even during COVID. COVID has not made school any harder for me, it feels the same as my other year except I have to wear a mask. 

   I wish COVID never happened because it is just weird, and it makes everything a lot harder and different.”

Jr. Callie Brondyke 

   This semester has not been Brondyke’s favorite. COVID has canceled and changed a lot of things she was looking forward to. Although she did enjoy online learning because she did not have to interact with many people. 

   “COVID made it harder to focus in school and get things done,;I procrastinated a lot which made it difficult to get all my work done on time. Without my teachers watching me do all my work, I didn’t have the pressure to get it all done. 

   I thought this semester would be easier, but honestly it was hard because I had to do a lot of work on my own. I thought I was good with time management but I realized that I wasn’t when I was finishing all my work ten minutes before it was due. 

   I don’t like in-person school that much, but it does make things a lot easier. It was a lot easier for me to learn when my teachers were right in front of me, and watching everything that I was doing. I felt more pressure to get all my work done. Although I still have the mindset that I will get it all done at some point. 

   My grades are definitely a bit worse than they have been in previous years. I say that is because of my bad time management, and the switch from virtual to in-person. 

   I do feel like COVID has affected my mental health. I feel like everything is a lot harder nowadays. I don’t have much motivation to do really anything. 

   The amount of cancelations this year is crazy. Most of the sports seasons have gotten canceled, and so many people counted on those for excitement. I did get a golf season, but it was very different. We had to wear masks, and we only played with our team. It was frustrating that we were not able to meet new people from other schools. 

   COVID has been very hard on me and has made my life a lot harder. I do wish COVID never happened, but to be honest I think everyone did.” 

Sr. Drew Smalldon 

   Smalldon has not enjoyed his first semester of his senior year because he has not yet been able to attend any of the traditional senior activities. From the year 2020, he has learned to accept the unexpected. 

   “Senioristis and COVID together didn’t make it easy to have a good work ethic. This then caused me to procrastinate and become very stressed. 

   During online and in-person school, I have had a lack of motivation, which made it hard to improve my grade point average. Although my grades have stayed pretty consistent to my grades in past years. 

   For me, the transfer between remote learning and being at school wasn’t too hard. Although it was difficult to stay on top of all the assignments I had to do before I went back to school. Most teachers made the switch pretty easy, but some of my teachers gave us so much work it was hard to keep up. 

   COVID has made my first semester of senior year pretty boring. I missed out on things like homecoming, many sporting events, and senior survivor. It was hard knowing that this is my last year at West Ottawa and I won’t get to be a part of the Black Hole that much. 

   Although I missed out on a lot, I was lucky enough to still have my senior tennis season. This tennis season looked a lot different than past years. We had to wear masks when we were off the court, and every team we played had their own tennis balls and we couldn’t touch the other teams’ tennis balls. We were allowed to have the normal amount of spectators they just had to wear masks. 

   I wish I could have had a normal senior year, because I have been looking forward to all the fun senior activities for a long time, and COVID has canceled most of them.”

   This past semester has been hard on everyone, including students, teachers, and parents. It has taught them to be grateful for what they do have, and not to miss all the things they don’t.