Since Scotts Valley High School closed on March 16th, teachers and students have begun Distance Learning, an online school schedule designed to keep curriculum moving. As COVID-19 continues to spread, worry, confusion, and staying inside make focusing on school work more difficult.
Emily Allen, 14, a freshman at SVHS, takes the state-wide shelter-in-place order seriously. “It is important to keep our senior citizens and those who are immune-compromised healthy,” she says. She explains that due to her heart condition and asthma, her family does not know how the virus could affect her. As a freshman, the cancellation of SAT tests and college visits have not affected her. “I’ve barely begun thinking about college”, she says, adding, “I do empathize with the seniors who are not getting the senior experience they hoped for.” Indeed, some California schools have cancelled proms and schools across the nation have cancelled graduation ceremonies. Despite this, Allen believes “closing the schools was definitely the right thing to do and on a local level, I think the situation is being handled well.” Nationally, she says that more tests are imperative for the situation to improve. While freshmen have not been as concerned with college or graduation as upperclassmen, all SVHS students have had online classwork. Allen prefers learning in person, explaining that at home, “the line between rest time and working is blurred,” despite the school’s attempt to create a more rigid schedule for online class periods.
Sophomore Jenison Brown, 16, also believes local responses to the virus have been efficient. “People seem to be taking it seriously”, he says. “The only reason I’ve left [home] is to hike.” As local gyms have closed, many residents are walking, jogging, and hiking around local parks and neighborhoods to stay fit. He adds that people traveling during this time because they think it is a vacation are foolish. “We are in a global pandemic with no vaccine for the disease. It’s not a time to go hang out with people and party,” he continues. “We’re trying to flatten the bell curve,” he says, referring to attempts to reduce the rate of infection, graphed as a bell curve. Brown too has been participating in his classes’ online assignments and homework. “I prefer online schooling even though I miss seeing friends,” he admits. As a sophomore, the cancellation of college related events has not affected him much, though he says he feels bad for juniors and seniors who are more affected.
Grace Chicoine, 17, says that as a junior, coronavirus has not affected her college opportunities as much as her classmates. She plans to attend Cabrillo Community College after graduation, but had wanted to take the SAT too. Chicoine says she “actually really enjoyed the online learning. I just woke up and did my work and by 12:30 I was done.” The SVHS schedule requires students to be online and working every weekday from 9:00am to 12:30pm, and each class lasts half an hour. Even though online school has been enjoyable for Chicoine, the school’s extracurriculars have also been cancelled. “Normally I'd be at the school almost every day practicing for the drama production of the Newsies,” she says, referring to the high school’s upcoming spring musical. “ We can’t have real rehearsals which is slowing us down and setting us back. We’ve spent so much time [on it]”, she says, adding that she just began being involved with theater and that she is not getting the full experience she hoped for. She believes everyone, not just students, must do their part to reduce the rate of coronavirus infection. “I went into the post office and the workers were wearing full on gear, with gloves and masks; it’s like a different planet,” she marvels.
A senior at SVHS, Genevieve Bellavance, 17, has been more directly impacted by the results of COVID-19. As a senior, she says “I’ve received acceptances from schools, but I feel like I can’t consider them because I’m unable to see them in person.” She explains that seeing colleges in person is important in her decision, and the widespread cancellation of college visits has limited her to only two she feels comfortable with. At high school, Bellavance enjoys the flexibility of Distance Learning. “I can also sleep in more, as online classes start an hour after school would typically start for me,” she says. To resume in-person school, she says our national response is delayed compared to other countries. “Now, we’re trying our best to play catch-up and flatten the curve,” she says, adding that while she appreciates the local measures, they will only work if citizens take it seriously. Bellavance adds, “I hope people remember not to blame Chinese Americans for the coronavirus, and to refrain from calling it the Chinese virus as President Trump does. This perpetuates racism against Asians and has been used as justification for harassment against Asian Americans.” She recently made a post on Instagram containing a picture of her and her friend, both of whom are Chinese. The post received a rude comment by another person who implied that they had coronavirus because of their ethnicity.
Mia Bailey is a junior at Scotts Valley High School and plans to pursue journalism in college.