High schoolers reflect on what’s needed to achieve normality



For The Gazette
Published: 3/28/2021 7:28:24 PM

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit everyone in different ways. Some people have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs. For teenagers, schools are closed, sports have changed to become more controlled, and social interactions have become less frequent. With the development of vaccines being distributed and the attempts at getting things back to the way they were pre-COVID, what do high school students think is the most important thing to achieving a sense of normality?

In interviews with youth living across the Pioneer Valley, going back to school in person was a popular answer, mainly for the social interactions it brings. COVID-19 has made hanging out with friends harder and less frequent, and high schoolers miss school where they could get daily social interactions.

“The main thing about coronavirus that’s different is the lack of social interactions,” said freshman Johann Bishop, who attends Amherst Regional High School (ARHS), when asked why he felt school was the most important thing to achieving normality. More than anywhere else, “school is where you find the most social interactions.” Johann said.

“Probably school,” ARHS freshman Aidan Martin-Weinbaum said.”I think just being able to interact with my friends, like more normally. Being able to see my friends and interact with them daily.”

ARHS senior Sachin Khashu touched on mental health in the aspect of sports. “As a senior in high school who relies on the sports seasons, I played tennis and hockey for Amherst for my mental health, and a lot of my social life revolved around sports,” Khashu said.

Sports itself was meaningful too, and its importance had to do with more than the social aspect. Sports at ARHS were played this year but under strict COVID guidelines.

“I’d say sports is one of the big things for me. Because with COVID it’s just not the same. I feel like when COVID is over I’ll just have a lot more fun,” freshman Rabi Mednicoff-Misra said. “With COVID it’s obviously not fun because you can’t get up close to the person.”

High schoolers also felt that getting a solid routine back through school and being able to have one on one conversations mask-free were important.

“After COVID, I would definitely say, just getting back to school, and getting back to the routine we had education-wise, prior to COVID,” Brooke Manfredi, a freshman at Williston Northampton School in Easthampton, said.

Deerfield Academy freshman Ben Wolfson touched on one-on-one conversations and living mask-free. “I think genuine one-on-one interactions,” Ben remarked. “A mask really takes the intimacy out of a conversation.”

However, what people deemed important was not always on par with what they deemed realistic. ARHS students varied on whether they would be willing to go back to school in-person April 26.

Asked if he would want to go back in person, Aidan Martin-Weinbaum, who mainly missed social interactions with friends, said no. “I personally don’t feel like it’s safe, honestly. Unless all my teachers are vaccinated, I don’t think it’s safe for them and for me.”

ARHS freshman Claire Ross, on the other hand, said she couldn’t wait to get back in person. “Yes, definitely. School has been hard for me to focus and pay attention. Being able to see and hear people and have things actually happening around me, it’s gonna make it a lot easier to focus and do well in school.”

Talvin Dhingra is a freshman at Amherst Regional High School.


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