COVID-19 has greatly affected students in the community, including students at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School. Since March, there have been many changes to students’ daily lives. Many of us are back to in-class learning again, but not without having to adapt to new school guidelines.
The pandemic has made school stressful for many students. This year, we have a limited number of classes to choose from due to cohorts that restrict groups to 120 students. This has forced many students to take classes online in order to get their required courses because the options for in-class learning are far more limited.
A new quarter-semester system has also been created this year. There are now two classes per term, and they have been extended to two hours and 50 minutes each. In many ways, this has made school easier as there is more time to focus on specific classes more intensely and learn more, but the larger workloads and frequent tests are challenging as many people find it difficult and time-consuming to keep up. It can also be hard to focus on one subject for that length of time every day and the condensed classes can put more pressure on students.
On the other hand, the increased class lengths provide more time to get to know your peers and the opportunity to meet new friends.
Perhaps one of the most prominent changes is that students and staff are now required to wear masks in common spaces, such as the hallways and the library. People are generally pretty good at following the guidelines, so we don’t have to wear masks in classrooms where everyone is within their cohort.
The pandemic has not only had a big impact on classes but it has also affected extracurricular school activities, such as sports and clubs. Sports teams have been divided into cohorts by grade for volleyball and basketball, but due to restrictions, soccer teams are unable to practice since the smaller team sizes would force grades to mix in order to create a big enough team.
Many clubs, though, have been able to continue with some improvisation. A few have weekly meetings in the library but are unable to put on any large events. The Amnesty Club, which usually hosts an annual concert, has had to postpone its concert for this month. Unfortunately, other attempts to hold concerts have also been hindered, and a recent Grade 8 band concert had to be conducted virtually. Although students are happy that concerts can still happen in some ways, many are disappointed not to be able to perform in-person.
COVID-19 has made the 2020/21 school year very different from previous years. It’s caused many changes for students and teachers and in many ways made school more difficult. Like anything, though, with these changes come new opportunities. All we can do is make the best of it.
Lauren Keller is a Grade 12 Peter Skene Ogden Secondary student who is writing for the 100 Mile Free Press as part of her Capstone project.