Students Reflect Further As COVID Continues

Since the outbreak of COVID 19 started impacting our community in March of 2020, the CDC, Governor’s Office, and Sonoma County, to name a few, have put out regulations on how to stay safe during the pandemic.

Charlie Sabella, Reporter

Since the outbreak of COVID 19 started impacting our community in March of 2020, the CDC, Governor’s Office, and Sonoma County, to name a few, have put out regulations on how to stay safe during the pandemic. Along with Petaluma City Schools restricting campus visits and sporting events to try and keep the number of cases low in the Petaluma community. Distance learning has become the new normal.  From March to the present, the safety regulations and directives have stayed similar.

According to a health order issued by the county on March 23 2020, “Safely maintaining a minimum of a six-foot distance from persons who are not part of the same household or living unit, carry facial coverings with them at all times, and wear them in all circumstances.” 

Despite students being concerned about social distancing and PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), some argue that six months of not coming in contact with your friends or people outside of your general household circle is just not feasible at this point.

To better understand different viewpoints of the matter, anonymous interviews were conducted from the student body to seek different perspectives on how they have handled the pandemic. A series of questions were asked within each interview to better understand what the student’s thoughts were. 

The first perspective was a female student in the Senior class. “I think COVID 19 should have been gone in April, and will probably last until next summer with how things are looking right now”, she said. 

“I have only been around co-workers, immediate family members, and close friends have been the only people I have seen since March and I have only gone to work and my house,” the student said. By staying with a small group of people and limiting the places traveled, the student is less exposed to possible COVID 19 cases.

In terms of Distance Learning the student had a strong opinion, “When it comes to distance learning, I think everyone is trying their best, students and teachers alike. As long as we are all understanding of one another. I do think we should be able to have events where we get together but be distanced at the same time,” she said. 

With more and more people gathering in larger groups the student shared her insight “I think that going or having a party at this point is one of the most unrealistic decisions you could make during a pandemic that we are trying to not spread. By going to a party you are surrounding yourself with people that could have the virus,” the student said. 

“I do not regret attending the unofficial Senior Sunrise that happened, we stayed in our separate groups and did not get close to people that we haven’t hung out with prior to the event,” she said. 

Similarly, the next student interviewed was a female student in the Senior class with a slightly different perspective on the pandemic. 

“As a student-athlete, COVID 19 hasn’t been great. My whole season has been taken away, but hopefully I will still be able to have a condensed version of it. Being a senior, we are missing out on a lot of big milestones that come with Senior year. I think what we are doing to protect ourselves from COVID is essential because as we have seen it is deadly,” she said.  

When posed the question, when will life return to “normal” the student shared, “I think COVID will last at least until we get a vaccine. I know scientists are doing the best they can but it will be awhile. By the time the vaccine is tested and developed it will take time for everyone to get it and hospitals are going to be very crowded,” the student said.

“Since March the only people I have seen are my immediate family and a cohort of my teammates so that we could get back to conditioning from a distance, with masks on of course,” she said. 

“I think we should be on the hybrid learning model because the upperclassmen have science lab classes to attend. Distance learning works for English and math classes but the more hands-on and science classes just aren’t the same with the lab component,” said the student. 

As many other students across campus shared her perspective on the modified learning, “It’s been really hard to learn much from distance learning due to lack of motivation. I’m trying my best to stay motivated but when you have your friends and teachers around you, with those interactions you really become motivated by others. That’s something that distance learning just can’t do for your everyday student,” she said.

“People in large groups ultimately are making that choice for themselves. I know I won’t go near them or approach them. I hope they are taking the right precautions, wearing a mask. But you also don’t know if they have been in quarantine all together, so it’s a difficult situation,” the student said.

The last student, a sophomore, interviewed had a different perspective, “I think that COVID 19 is a serious thing. At the beginning I don’t think I thought it was as deadly as I obviously know it is now. I thought it was going to be just like the annual flu but once I found out numbers of cases and deaths were rising I knew it wasn’t like anything I have dealt with before. People were getting anxiety, depression, and losing their jobs due to places having to close down. It has had a larger impact than those who have gotten sick,” she said.

“I have only been around my immediate family, my boyfriend, co-workers, and the people I have been volunteering with since March. I try my best to keep it that way,” the student said. 

“I think distance learning will definitely last all this year, I don’t want it to but it seems like it will. I think Hybrid would be the best option for the student body if it was up to me. Distance Learning has been a challenge for me and other students,” she said.

“I really don’t like distance learning. It has been extremely challenging for me. From getting headaches from looking at my computer for too long and not being able to have that in-person interaction with my peers has been hard on me. I am super appreciative of my teachers for how hard they have been working to become prepared for distance learning but it’s just not the same as in person,” said the student. 

The student not only shared her insight but also a positive of the experience, “At the beginning, COVID, like a lot of people, I was really depressed and I never was depressed like that ever before. I just felt so unmotivated and upset and sad that this was happening, especially because I’m really a social person. So I talked to my teacher Ms. Moquete, my Human Interaction teacher at the time and I started volunteering with her. I learned more about her non-profit Una Vida and have now volunteered over 200 hours with her organization. I honestly do not know what I would have done if it wasn’t for Ms. Moquete saved me from not feeling myself and I am forever grateful. The impact Una Vida is able to give is unlike any other.” she said. While proud of the changes COVID was able to create for her. 

As one can notice, each of these students had a consistent story with their COVID-19 and distance learning experience. They are only surrounded by limited amounts of people like guidelines suggest and distance learning is not the preferred option. Time will tell what is next, for now Petaluma City Schools Board of Education moved to stay online distance learning for the remainder of the first semester, at the October 13th board meeting seeking optimism for the start of the calendar year.