The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

The student news site of Vista del Lago

The Vista Voice

Revisiting the Pandemic

Four years later, can we see a lasting impact?
Janice Johnson
March 13, 2020: A final shot of the staff in the school library as Principal Emmington announces the temporary school closure. No one had a clue how restrictive their lives were about to become.
March 13, 2020: Principal Lori Emmington with her assistant principals, Jeanine Holton and Jonathan Johnson, announce the school closure to the staff. (Janice Johnson)

March 13, 2020: Then-principal Lori Emmington was in her last year as principal of Vista del Lago High School when she suddenly had to close the school for two weeks because of a virus that was running rampant. All anyone knew was that it was a pandemic, but they didn’t know how long it would last.
So everyone waited.
And waited.
And waited.
In the end, two weeks turned into a year of students and teachers staying, learning, and teaching from home. The COVID-19 pandemic changed education just as much as it changed people. It was a problematic year for the world, impacting everyone’s lifestyle and behavior.

Perhaps the worst impact was on students, as they were forced to work in isolation and face emotional hardships. At the time, Vista’s current seniors were in eighth grade and freshmen were in fifth, and their experiences still impact them today.

Senior Angela Bradley was in eighth grade. “[I was more] introverted because [there was] less socializing, but it made me more comfortable with being at home,” Bradley said. However, “That was a bad thing, [as] it’s better to just hang out with people.” The pandemic affected many students’ social skills, and they had a hard time conveying their feelings since they didn’t have anyone to talk to. Statistics from pre-pandemic and post-pandemic research showed that there was a higher level of depression, insomnia, anxiety, and lower levels of well-being among students.

March 13: Panicked shoppers clean out the shelves of toilet paper and paper towels at the Folsom Safeway. (Janice Johnson)

Vista VAPA teacher Pablo Castellanos had a hard time coming back to school teaching after the pandemic. “I became a bit extroverted actually, because I felt like in order to get my presence across online I had to be,” he said. “I would really push myself to check in with every student everyday”. One of the most challenging things he felt about teaching art online was that he couldn’t see and give immediate feedback, which he thought would make the art lower than average standards. “Some students had a chance to immerse themselves in their work and I did see a higher quality of work than I expected,” he said.

According to a study, students who learned online appeared to be more successful at managing stress than students who learned traditionally, as these students had experience with how to manage time despite having multiple life problems, including the pandemic.

Castellanos thinks that we haven’t seen all of the effects of the pandemic yet. “I don’t think they’re going to be good developmentally.” He says that seventh, eighth, and ninth grades have changed the way they learn because of the pandemic. “I don’t think we’ve seen effects of how they’re gonna learn in the future [as their] learning was disrupted,” he said.

Vista junior Yarely Sanchez was in seventh grade when the pandemic started. The thing she missed most about school was “being physically there, being [an] actively good listener, and being more aware of things, learning easily and asking for help when I need it.” Ironically, the experience turned her into an extrovert. “I wanted to be out more because I hated being inside.”

Still, Sanchez feels better prepared if it happens again. “We would be more prepared because of the vaccines and other medicines that we have found.” As for her academics, she said that learning science and English were the hardest. “It is harder to ask questions and be able to understand the way of writing or doing the thing.”

Vista junior Rucha Purankar also had some changes in her personality during the pandemic.
“I think [it] also reduced my attention span because it seemed like I couldn’t focus. But, I feel like it’s worse now. Like, I can’t sit for long periods of time and focus and do my work for like an hour straight. I [need] to take breaks in between” she said. Sources show over 69 percent of teachers say that there has been an increase in inattention and daydreaming after the pandemic.

Freshman Ella Ham feels that we have come a long way in healthcare after the pandemic. “Certain health care didn’t improve but a lot of [medications like] COVID vaccines probably got a lot of money. On the other hand, contact diseases probably went down a lot, because nobody wanted to come near each other.” She also feels that if it recurred, people may stop following protocol. “We would totally feel like we’re too cool for this [protocol]. Obviously, we’re going to be careful, but as time goes on, we’ve just become less concerned.”

Vista teacher Taylor Alber expresses the hardships she faced during the pandemic. Alber teaches Forensic Science where students learn how to apply scientific principles to help in legal matters. “I teach a very hands-on class, so to not be able to have the hands-on application made it very challenging to teach the students about certain things with regards to developing fingerprints, for example, or looking at blood spatter analysis, because it’s just not the same when you’re looking at a computer.”

Alber overcame this setback by finding an online alternative. “I found an online program that walked students through historical cases, looking at all of the content I would have been teaching about with fingerprints, tire marks, blood spatter, etc. So I was able to do a virtual crime scene with them as my units, which was fun. I mean, as fun as you can make it online.”

Librarian Frankie Arata was alone in the library during the pandemic. Many students weren’t given the chance to borrow books because of the virus, so Arata came up with a clever method for students to borrow books. “We put the books on these rolling carts and rolled them all out to the curb. And then you guys drove through in your cars and picked them up, we handed them to you…The fact that there were no kids on campus gave me the opportunity as a new librarian to come in, clean and weed, and make this library amazing for you guys.” Arata took the pandemic as an opportunity to revise, improve, and decorate the library.

With it being four years since the pandemic, we have yet to discover how the students taught during the pandemic are going to be different from others. How will they act differently in their lives? The result may be revealed sooner than we realize.



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