What a strange year for students! COVID-19 turned our world upside-down. We ended our last school year at home, doing Google meets and Zoom calls with our classmates and teachers and spending a lot of extra “quality” time hanging with our families. And now we are getting ready for yet another crazy school year. Whether you’re learning remotely or attending school in-person, one thing is for certain: this upcoming school year is going to be unlike any other.
It is natural to feel a bit disappointed about everything happening in education today. There are so many things we have to deal with now that other students in the past didn’t have to face. It can be overwhelming to think about what 2020 has meant to education:
We sometimes feel like we have gotten the short end of the stick over and over again. Furthermore, we face a school year with even more questions we can’t seem to answer:
There is so much confusion. We have a lot to take on, and we have no clue what else this year will bring.
When there is so much that is unknown and out of our control, sometimes the best thing to do is to examine what we can control in this insane time. This applies to our educational experience as well. Sure, we cannot choose every positive outcome for ourselves, but we can make things as best as possible considering our circumstances.
Let’s take a look at things we can do to help reframe some of our challenges for this upcoming academic year. How can we better face these obstacles in the 2020-21 school year?
Obviously, these restrictions and guidelines are in place to keep us safe, so we cannot ignore their significance. However, we can look at these rules in a different light. If wearing a mask seems lame, how about buying some really cool masks? Or decorating our own masks? We can make a statement with our face coverings. If school lunchrooms have to be spaced out, maybe we ask for permission to eat outside and have a picnic every day. If school has to be online only, maybe we can sleep in again and have a more flexible schedule.
Schools have lost money because states have had to reallocate funds to other COVID-related expenses. It can be disappointing to see students take the hit in this budget war. Even so, there are ways we can make this better. We can help our schools make more fiscally responsible choices. For technology, students can be allowed to bring their own devices to school and use them in classes. Printing costs can be reduced if documents such as the student code of conduct and the course guides are made available online instead of in hard copies. For events like graduation, caps and gowns can be purchased from a much more budget-friendly vendor such as Graduation Source.
After losing out on prom and sports in the spring, it is natural to feel anxious that everything in the 2020-21 school year will be canceled. But this doesn’t have to be the case. With some creativity, events can be redesigned to encourage social distancing (like drive-thru commencement ceremonies and outdoor meet the teacher nights). Although it’s not the same, virtual events can offer some sense of ritual in this weird time. You could host a virtual homecoming with a live DJ and streaming services. For sporting events that can take place, they can also be streamed online so fans can watch safely from home.
We are definitely facing challenges that no other generation has had to deal with. Fortunately, we have the power and will within ourselves to make this less-than-ideal situation better than it appears to be. With a positive attitude and a lot of creativity, we can do everything we can to create a memorable and enjoyable year for all of us.