COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Students

Brianna Woltz, Staff Writer

Ask any student right now if they would’ve ever expected to live through a pandemic, and the answer most likely would be no. The coronavirus has put everyone’s life on pause by keeping them from being able to either go out and socialize or go to work. Experts worry they will see a permanent effect on students when it comes to academics in the coming months and years.

“It’s impacting students a lot,” senior Stepahnie Ekufu said. “Athletes miss their spring season.”

Seniors are feeling the effects the most. With college being such a vital part to students’ futures, some seniors have doubted their plans they had set in place for their first fall semester of college.

“The coronavirus has made me question whether [or] not I should go to college right away this fall or if I should take a gap year so I can save up my money,” senior Jasmine Walker said. “I got a full scholarship to the school that I’m going to, and I don’t think I will be able to get that back if I were to take a gap year.”

While some seniors have already committed to their colleges, others missed out on important events to help make their decision. With colleges nationwide sending home their students and closing down for the rest of the semester, some students weren’t able to visit their potential schools.

“Most admissions offices have transitioned to hosting events online, but virtual tours and Zoom sessions can only do so much to acquaint students with a college’s environment,” said Terry Nguyen from Vox.

With schools closing down, tests such as AP and SAT or ACT have been forced to reconfigure its procedures. It has caused annoyance among some students that current juniors will not have to submit SAT or ACT scores to some colleges. They’re doubting the importance of these tests that they’ve been told throughout their life are the deciding factors for their future.

“I tried hard for my score over a few attempts, and I’m rather proud of it and all of the emotional weight that came with it,” senior Carson Jennings said. “So, to see that the juniors won’t have to deal with that stress makes me a little jealous.”

While standardized testing may only be significant to juniors right now, online schooling has forced all students to make the transition to e-learning. This has made some students realize that being able to physically go to school is something they miss.

“I miss being back at school,” senior Julissa Ortiz said. “This experience of e-learning has shown me that online classes aren’t for me and are a totally different experience than physical school. I miss the routine of my days and my daily interactions with teachers and classmates.”

Not being able to go out and physically interact with people makes students feel less socially connected to their friends, and they are also losing out on important social benefits. Being able to interact physically is a crucial part of developing emotionally, especially for younger students such as toddlers or elementary kids.

“Research finds that more instructional time in the early years has important benefits for children over the short- and long-term, particularly children learning English and those from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Colleen Sharkey from Notre Dame News said.

While some students have been lucky to be financially stable, with the economy crashing, many parents have lost their jobs.

“The release of the April jobs report is expected to show a staggering jump in unemployment to around 16%,” Chris Stirewalt said for Fox News. “The Congressional Budget Office has projected that unemployment, which hit 4.4% in March, will average nearly 14% during April, May and June.”

With the millions of adults who have lost their jobs, students who are able to work, may be needing to get jobs in order to help their families bring in some income during these times.

“I think some of our young people are going to be pushed to work, even right now during this process,” Jack Wang from the University of Chicago said. “If they start becoming breadwinners for their households, you can’t undo that.”

As much as some parents may choose to hide the financial difficulties in these times, students’ lives are being affected. CNN reported that Senior Julian Perez was planning on going to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia but due to the Coronavirus, financial difficulties have altered his plans.

“Julian Perez’s mom lost her job at a local college. His dad, a coffee distributor, expects to be furloughed soon,” Scottie Andrew for CNN said. “They told him they can no longer afford to send him to his “dream school.’”

Not only do some students have to take on a job, they might also have to become a teacher and parent. Those with younger siblings have to help make sure they don’t fall behind while their parents are at work.

“[I’m] stressed since my brother is 7 years old, he doesn’t know too much about the internet and how to do his work,” Ekufu said. “Not only am I busy with my assignments, but I’m busy teaching him as well.”

Being out of school could also mean losing out on free meals. Many students rely on school’s free meals in order to avoid going hungry so for them, no school means no food.

“The US Department of Agriculture, which oversees the country’s school nutrition programs, says more than 20 million students rely on free school meals each day,” CNN’s Nicole Chavez said.

Schools also provide many beneficial resources for students that they would otherwise have to pay for outside. Counselors and social workers see students every day, so without having a stable support network, students are left to their own internal battle.

“School districts are working out how to provide mental health services to students with existing needs, as well as to students who are struggling with the sudden closure of schools and the need to maintain social distance from their friends,” Kathleen McWilliams said in the Hartford Courant.

No learning is also a reality for some students as well. Many students do not have adequate internet access to be able to do e-learning or get material to keep up with their studies.

“As many as 12 million school-aged children live in homes without broadband access, according to a 2017 report by the US Congress Joint Economic Committee,” Chavez said.

Doing online school at home has been difficult for many. Understandably, a lack of motivation is certainly present and so for those who needed face-to-face instructional time, could end up widening the achievement gap.

“I learn best when I’m in a classroom,” Junior Ella White said.