Coming out of a pandemic has been challenging adjustment-wise for all, and especially for students. There has evidently been a drop in self confidence and in other parts of socal life for many, due to the nature of isolation which existed throughout the pandemic. In addition to this, there are struggles with getting back into the flow of in-person school and sanitization in the building.In order to learn more about how students were dealing with these changes, I interviewed current juniors who were freshmen when the pandemic hit.
Seeing people again was a popular subject that every student discussed, as it was one of their favorite things about this year. However, Madi Jones, (‘23) noted that: “I forgot how anxiety-inducing it is to be around people.” She also added by saying that this year has comparatively been “much better than being on Zoom, and this year feels as normal as it can be. If given the opticon I would stay in person”.
Carmen Espejos Saavedra (‘23) said that she is: “So much happier in person than online. Wifi was not good and connecting to class was hard which made attendance.” Josh Wilson, (‘22) agrees, “It feels really good. It feels good to interact with people” Lucia LaVonrgna (‘23) added that she felt more focused in person than she was while online.
Mental health was another major subject that was impacted this year, with self-confidence levels that plummeted. In a national poll conducted by C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 46% of parents of teens said that their kid has shown signs of mental health problems.
Fatu Douf said that being back “has helped with my mental health, being stuck inside was really damaging to my mental health. I’m still getting used to being in the building so that has caused a shift in my mental health and was hard at first”.
School safety was another major concern for many students. There were a great deal of different student opinions on how the school has handled the pandemic. While face masks are required for being in the building throughout the state of Maryland, there are still significant concerns about how this mandate is consistently being enforced.
June McDonelled (‘23) said: “every week someone has (covid) and we get an email. The school is so compact to begin with, that it is hard to separate from people.” She later noted that this was out of the school’s control, and that there frankly was not much they could do about it.
According to an article done by Benjamin Herold from Education Week, “By early September, at least 1,000 schools across 35 states had closed to in-person learning due to COVID-19 outbreaks” proving June’s point.
Isabel Croson (‘23) agreed by stating: “ they are trying their best, but it is kinda out of their hands.” City has been performing covid testing regularly for unvaccinated students, and for students who are vaccinated but still wish to get tested. Michelangelo Busamarello (‘23) commented, “They have been really serious about masks, but not much about sanitizing” adding that: “teachers will tell you to pull your mask up”
Other students disagreed, and said that City is doing their best circumstantially. Carmen mentioned that the school could be more sanitary in the cafeteria, yet other than that she thought that City had been doing a good job.
The issues of vaccine mandates is another evident concern among students at City. There has been a lot of back and forth about it, although the state of Maryland leaves it to the individual school boards to choose if they want to mandate vaccinations. For example, Baltimore County Schools System stated that: “Students have until Nov. 24 to provide the school system with proof of vaccination. Students who are unwilling to get vaccinated must have a documented medical or religious reason why they cannot be vaccinated and must participate in mandatory weekly COVID-19 testing.”
Lucia Lavornia (‘23) said: “I think they should mandate it for teachers and students. it’s safer to do especially when there’s no choice in going virtual or in person. The choice was chosen for us, so the choice of freedom should be chosen for those who attend”
Last year it was difficult for many to balance school and home. June Mcdonald (‘23) said that since she has been back she has felt more “Overwhelmed when I get home.” Alternatively, Michelangelo mentioned that this year feels “More balanced” as “after school activities are still accessible and give us something to do”. For more information on after school clubs/activities, see Isabella Willinger and Alden Edwards’ article on some of City’s current clubs and activities.
Ultimately, everyone that was interviewed agreed that being back has felt significantly better than being online, for a variety of reasons. No matter if it is because of friends, workload, or just to see human faces again, students at large are grateful to be back.