OPINION: Our first school year in the pandemic: now what?

*Columns are the opinions of their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wichitan as an organization.*

Since the pandemic began in March 2020, students and their families across the country were left wondering how life was going to be like for the upcoming school year. With all of the protests against hate crimes and the number of COVID-19 cases increasing every day, many Americans were at a loss. From behind computer screens, faculty and staff banded together to decide how they could keep students safe while also ensuring an effective education. Like many other people in the world, I have never experienced an event like this, so I was trying to figure out what to do along with billions of other individuals.

Even though the pandemic was at its all time high at the start of the school year, I was so excited to see my college friends and the staff as well. However, I also recognized that because we were (and still are) in a pandemic, life at school had to be adjusted if we wanted to live a somewhat “normal” school year. But this school year wasn’t normal for a variety of reasons: the mask mandate, the economic decline, the number of students attending in-person and the ever-growing problem of systematic racism. I showed up to school not knowing what to expect but sure that I needed to adjust and change to get through the year. Throughout this school year, I attended a combination of online, hybrid, and in-person classes. I can definitely speak on behalf of a lot of students when I say juggling all of these classes was very difficult and it was hard to keep up with and stay motivated. I want to say that I was always on top of my school work and always took part in my organizations, but I didn’t because this past year was a lot harder to deal with. Everyone was struggling to find a balance: students, teachers, staff. However, we made it through, and that alone is an accomplishment.

This has been a year of discovery. I realized how focused I was on the rest of the world and paid little attention to myself. I worked on hobbies, learned more about my culture and educated myself on world issues. I’m sure many of us are constantly thinking about when life will return to how it was, but in reality, life will never be the same. Because we were not allowed to do nearly as many activities and events as we’re used to, we were left to what was available in our homes. Because businesses were not allowed to have as many employees and customers, they had to accommodate to stay afloat. As students, we had to do what we could to learn just as well as before. We are experiencing perhaps the biggest disruption of our lifetime; there’s no doubt about that. Who knows what next year is going to be like? But because of all the trials and tribulations, we learned from this year so we will be better prepared for the next. We got this, Mustangs.