Reflecting on one year of distance learning during pandemic

One year later, students reflect on their experience with distance learning. In the ThingLink below, some students described distance learning in six words.

March 12, 2021

Hover over the circle with a plus sign and click on it to read each of the responses. Photos provided by each student pictured. 

Senior Amelia Sanchez’s routine used to consist of getting coffee with her friends each morning before school started. The school bus dropped her off at around 7:15 a.m., then she met her friends in front of the school and they walked to Jack in the Box or a nearby donut shop. This was the norm for them. A year later, Sanchez’s school morning routine looks very different. 

“I miss seeing my friends every day. I feel like at school, that’s what I did. We walked everywhere,” Sanchez said. “Here at home I’m able to walk around but I get so tired of my house.”

On March 13 of last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District announced that schools would close for two weeks due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two weeks turned into a year-long closure with distance learning and Zoom becoming a part of students’ and teachers’ everyday school routine. As of March 12, the district announced that schools will reopen this spring. No date has been announced for when high school students can return to campus.                                                 

“At first I was glad I was going to have two weeks off but at the same time, I was scared because everything changed so fast and I couldn’t deeply understand what was going on,” senior Abdon Ubeda said. 

The idea of having two weeks off of school before Spring break was appealing to many students. When it was announced that March 13 was their last day of in-person learning, there was some shock.

“I was a junior (at the time) so life was pretty chaotic. I had just come out of water polo season and with the Scholastic Aptitude Test, people talking about college and Advanced Placement testing. I feel like it was pretty stressful at that time,” Sanchez said. “ To think that we may not see each other before we all leave for college and go our separate ways, I feel like I would have really taken the time to say bye to everybody.”

Throughout this year of distance learning and quarantine, it’s easy for all of the days to blur together. With the transition from one school year to the next, the typical celebrations held at the end of the school year looked quite different, especially for seniors and incoming freshmen. 

If I knew that I was going to be online for the whole year, I would’ve definitely said bye to my friends in a more proper way and said thank you to my teachers,” freshman Natalya Lembo said. I never got to say goodbye and kind of just left on the last day of class.”

Distance learning has also caused a feeling of isolation among students. Students have been learning through a screen instead of in a classroom for a year. The lack of social interaction has impacted student’s mental health. 

“Some days I’ll be doing really well and other days, it all just hits me. They come in short little waves,” Sanchez said. “I try to stay positive and look at things that are opening up soon.”

Although the pandemic has brought much loneliness and many challenges, students have found ways to see the silver linings in their personal lives. Many have used this time to reflect on themselves, have a greater appreciation for the little things in life and live in the moment. 

“With the whole pandemic, I feel like it taught me a lot more of the importance of life,” senior and Class President Om Patel said. “I have grown so much as a person and I’m really happy that the pandemic has changed my life in a positive way and helped me realize a lot.”

Despite not being able to see friends, classmates and teachers every day, students have found ways to stay in contact. Others have discovered new passions and activities that bring them joy.

“The pandemic helped me have better communication with my siblings and parents,” Ubeda said. “But for myself, I learned that there are many other things I like to do like yoga, exercising and fashion.” 

Despite the difficulties posed by quarantine, students like Patel have experienced some positive outcomes. He stays in contact with his friends regularly, which he believes has allowed him to create stronger bonds with them. 

“It’s not hard to stay in contact with the people you want in your life or people that mean something to you,” Patel said. “I realized who my friends are and who my companions are.”

The following students contributed to this feature: Itzel Luna and Valery Barrera.

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