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  • Writer's pictureMichael McClellon

COVID-19: A Psychological Virus

You’re having the recurring dream involving your best friend and that fantasy movie with that creepy elf that looks like your teacher. All is going as expected until you hear a loud buzzing noise. It doesn’t seem to be part of the dream you're having, but it gets louder and louder until… You wake up and see your alarm for 8:10 going off, and you hastily dismiss it. School starts at 8:30 AM, but not a feeling of worry crosses your mind. How is this so?

Welcome to the age of online learning, where the audio is choppy, and the eye strains persist. We have entered this new era of history in order to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus by limiting interaction. This strategy has now worked across the country, and schools are now reopening to brick and mortar classrooms due to falling case numbers.

Consequently, this presents a choice to students all across America: To stay or not to stay? This has been on the minds of parents and students for quite a while now, and there are many reasons to pick either scenario. Maybe you often zone out during online lectures, or your technology is subpar for learning, and you must return to school. Or maybe your grades improve from learning virtually, and you very much appreciate the extra sleep and food breaks.

Whatever the choice for you may be, it is becoming apparent that an overwhelming amount of students are choosing to remain online for a longer duration of time. An Axios-Ipsos poll conducted in mid-July shows that 71% of individuals believe that reopening schools carries a “moderate to large” risk. Most of my friends at school also say they are remaining online, and alas, I fear I’ll be alone at lunchtime when I return shortly.

Although this may be justified, it still is doing something horrible to students, particularly those in high school. It’s probably the most subtle after-effect of the virus, but it proves to be the worst for our future.

Oftentimes, I hear others say that they just want to get the year over with at this point. They treat highschool and even senior year as a meaningless burden that they have to scrape by just to enter college. I cringe every time I hear something like this, and it’s devastating that people would disregard these precious years of their lives. These are the same people who want to stay online indefinitely for school. This may be an unpopular opinion, but some people who stay online are just not willing to put in the energy to wake up early and get ready to leave for school. But this is not their fault.

The coronavirus has made us so used to staying in the comforts of our home that it has blinded us from the reality we know only months before. Many today could not imagine waking up an hour before school starts and actually wearing pants either. As pleasing as it may be, normalizing this lifestyle will never get us ready to return back to school in person when we finally get the chance to do so safely.

What happened to the intense desire to go back to school that we all felt it before? What happened to our ability to juggle life and school separately?

One of the reasons that I am returning back to school is because I feel that my years in high school deserve to be experienced the right way. These are the most important years of your life. The years in which you are free to be curious enough to try new things, but where life is still structured enough for you to have a safety net.

The coronavirus has taken this life away from us and has brainwashed us into ignoring the meaning of our lives. It is up to our return to normalcy to get it back. Returning to school while following all of the safety guidelines allows us to refrain from this lifestyle of obscure daily plans and restore a structured and productive day. Many of my friends have even lost their sense of day and night, and instead of sleeping during the night like a normal diurnal species, they treat the day as an entire 24-hour period in which they take periodic naps. I remember waking up in the morning and seeing messages from 5 AM almost every day.

Again, as this may seem fun in the short term, this crippling mentality only leads us deeper into unproductiveness and away from the light.

If you feel returning to school is safe for you and your family, and you are prepared to follow all of the safety guidelines, I recommend returning and being able to truly live again. We have normalized staying home for far too long, and the effect it is having on our students is one that they will most likely regret in the future, even though they may not realize it now.

When you make your decision this year about schooling, please take into account these factors, and always remember that high school is always worth truly living for.


To read more articles from Michael McClellon click here.

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