When Fall comes around we all know what that means- back to school! This can be an exciting experience to be with your friends and classmates everyday and enjoy sharing your favorite summertime moments and catching up. This is also the time when you will be getting back into your routine of learning, sports, clubs, and the comradery of lunchtime. With the CDC reporting over two million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, and 30,349 in Colorado alone at the time of this writing, what does that mean in terms of returning to school?
In high school we make deep connections and build relationships that can last a lifetime. These relationships are a foundation for how we make our way in the world. These are unprecedented times as COVID-19 has drastically changed how we interact, learn, and experience education. Distance learning may continue into the Fall and going back to school may not be the same. The high school experience is not just classroom learning; it includes the interactions that happen between classes on the basketball court, debate club, or the school play, for example. Even if school happens in person, many of the social areas could be closed like the cafeteria and many extracurricular activities could be postponed or canceled. Due to the fluid and changing nature of the pandemic, our school needs to be prepared to adapt, adjust, and effectively pivot, if necessary, to respond quickly to the situation because of our utmost dedication to the health and safety of our students and their families, staff, faculty, administration — and the community we live in.
Practicing social distancing can influence the feeling of connectedness with your classmates. You may find yourself having to sit at least 6 feet apart while also having to wear a mask and gloves in order to help prevent the spread of this worldwide virus.
It is important to be open and communicate with as much compassion during these times. How is one supposed to know you’re smiling underneath that mask?! Choosing to focus on your words and move forward with awareness and kindness will be crucial in navigating this new experience: giving you the opportunity to strengthen your interpersonal skills that are greatly needed to embark upon the journey of adult life.
Now is the time to be creative in staying connected with your friends and classmates while also sharing in the expansion of yourself and learning new things. Subconsciously you may feel more of an impact of not having the “normalcy” of your everyday life as it was. Mentally, emotionally, and physically there are ways to remain close with friends, while also having alternative outlets to relieve stressors of all three.
Find alternative ways to get together safely online and off. Start a Netflix watch party for your favorite show or learn the latest TikTok dance and practice together. Wear your favorite sports team mask and set up a game of ball- even creating a bracket for a two-on-two series. You may also set up “social distance blankets” and have a picnic. Start a book or other club and have most of your meetups online. There are many online platforms that allow you to interact virtually, but still be able to see and hear each other. Be sure to use caution with personal information and online conference tools. Keeping face-to-face group interactions small will help stay within the guidelines of practicing safe social distancing. It may be tempting to break the rules outlined by the CDC and WHO, but sticking to them is a way to be a good friend and bring positive impact to getting on the other side of this global pandemic and returning to school as we have all known it.