A Reflection: COVID Has Changed Our Childhood

A+Reflection%3A+COVID+Has+Changed+Our+Childhood

It’s crazy to think that it’s been almost two years since COVID turned our world upside down. As I head into the second semester of my eighth grade year, it is strange thinking about how fifth grade—elementary school—was my last full year of school before COVID. Sixth and seventh graders had their last full year of school before COVID at an even younger age. 

As of recently, however, things have changed drastically with us now having the option to not wear masks inside the classroom and with masks not being mandated inside stores. 

Everyone has missed out on so many opportunities because of COVID, but how has the loss of social opportunities affected kids? 

Kids have missed out on experiences that we consider important and huge parts of growing up, whether having missed their elementary school graduations or never getting the chance to have a normal middle school experience without wearing masks and seeing the bottom half of other peoples’ faces. 

It’s crazy thinking about the lockdown in Spring 2020. I remember having my sixth grade graduation from my elementary school  canceled. While we eventually did have a ceremony, the experience wasn’t nearly the same as it would have been. 

Similar things happened to all of us. “The whole world shut down,” says eighth grader Caroline Werdesheim.

And quite honestly, the world did. We couldn’t go to the grocery store or go shopping for anything really. We changed to ordering everything we could possibly need online.

Even seeing my friends changed drastically. I remember everyone was too scared to have big parties for birthdays, so a lot of my friends had drive-by birthday parades. 

While drive-by birthday parades were not nearly the same as a huge, fun birthday party, this was one of the only ways to celebrate or even see our friends without wearing a mask and social distancing.

Even when we were in-person again, things were still drastically different. School assemblies were watched virtually from classrooms, Flik lunch came to us in Oglesby, we were COVID tested every Monday, and more students were on Zoom with each coming week. 

This world that we are living in is very different from anything that could’ve been imagined. 

Nonetheless, even with COVID, teens still find ways to be teens. With masks joining the school dress code, the mask requirement became one more rule to break.

“At the beginning of the year, [not wearing a mask properly] felt like a rebellion,” says Assistant MS Head for Academic Programs and MS English Teacher Leslie Ann Little, “and there is a world of difference between having a skirt that’s too short . . . or a shirt that’s untucked, and wearing a mask low.”

Luckily, not wearing a mask properly isn’t a problem anymore inside the classroom.

COVID has made me question, what is “normal”? Is wearing masks the new normal? I guess we will have to wait and see. 

Covid has changed everyone in their own way. With the absence of social gatherings, students have learned to appreciate what they get and become much more flexible. On the other hand, some kids have become less social and are unsure of how to function in a social environment. “I also think that it created a lot of social anxiety and we got comfortable communicating with people behind a screen or being instructed not to touch each other [social distancing],” says Middle School Counselor Saundria Zomalt, “We’ve all been kind of programmed to stay apart from each other, and then all of the sudden it was like we were released back into the world.”

Along with social distancing,  some people’s parents have been more strict about mask wearing than others. “My dad makes me wear a mask everywhere we go,” says seventh grader Addison Tsang. “[My parents were] really strict in the beginning, not as much anymore,” says eighth grader Gaby Carvajal. 

Luckily, social opportunities started coming back once the vaccine came out. “After I’ve been vaccinated, they weren’t as strict,” says eighth grader Virginia Willis. Likewise for me, my parents were a lot less strict after I got vaccinated. 

Now that we are allowed to not wear masks in the classroom, I think we’re all in for a lot of change. Just being able to see the bottom half of people’s faces and their smiles is so different and seems weird after all this time. Hopefully, we will keep making progress towards going back to normal, without masks.