From early school closures to the lack of handshakes and high fives, this year has been unique, to say the least. COVID-19 has shaken society and pushed the limits of our school systems to the absolute max. Starting the 2020-2021 school year has been arduous for students and teachers alike, proving it to be difficult to transition into our new normality.
At the British International School of Houston, students have been given the option to opt for virtual or in-person classes. Personally, choosing virtual learning, the many challenges of online classes have made themselves apparent to me over the last few weeks.
The students and teachers at BISH are a tight-knit community, constantly developing our core value of unity through things like regular assemblies and a plethora of interschool competitions. Being a Bulldog is about feeling a sense of pride for being part of this community; having to be physically distanced from it all is unusual.
Humans, as a species, are meant to interact amongst each other. Developing relationships and communicating with others provides emotional support that is extremely beneficial for our mental health. The current pandemic has stripped us of the commodity of social interaction.
Not having seen any of my friends or peers for the past six months, the smallest chance at contact, even if through a computer screen, has been something to look forward to. The bonds that our classmates have formed over the last few years has been evident in our few virtual interactions, where we have all eagerly conversed about our time apart.
Combatting the lack of socialization has been challenging, however, with increasing FaceTime calls and unique ways of communication, the students at BISH have taken this in their stride.
“I found that writing letters was a fun way to keep in touch with friends without it just being a plain old text. I love receiving letters in the mail and there’s just something more personable about receiving a handwritten letter from a friend or family member. Plus, it’s also a way to be more creative!” says Christina M., a Year 11 student at the British International School.
An absence of social interaction has not been the only challenge that virtual students at BISH have been overcoming. With our homes turning into classrooms, the opportunity to exercise has been limited during school hours. While on campus, walking around to lessons and playing football during break ensured that we kept active, sitting at home on our computers has increased the need to keep moving.
With the constant need to be at our desks, it is easy to forget to get out of our rooms and move about. A small ritual I have implemented is to simply get up and stretch between my back to back classes. A little bit of stretching and a drink of water not only keeps me refreshed for learning, but helps me loosen my muscles. Many students at BISH have similar routines to keep them physically healthy during virtual learning, where their activity has been limited.
Cerys, the center back player on last year’s soccer team, says, “as a very active person, the limitation of sports available from school has definitely had an impact on me. At the start of virtual school, I went on many runs, arranging it around my school schedule. I have been able to continue my participation in my competitive swim team and have also been doing some dryland exercises along with that.”
The start of this academic year has been strenuous on everyone, whether that be due to the lack of socialization with peers, absence of extracurriculars or other individualized issues that have arisen with virtual learning. Through this time, however, the students at BISH, and all over the world, have learned to adapt and thrive in these unprecedented circumstances.
Students all over the world are coming out stronger from this time, learning to make the best of their situations. Albert Einstein once said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity." This is our opportunity to grow; to grow as students and as people.
Article written by Sana, School Buzz Reporter, for The Buzz.