The past two years have been hard for everyone. Between establishments closing and opening at the drop of a hat, social distancing, wearing masks, and self-isolating, the COVID-19 pandemic has been an adjustment for us all.
But the pandemic has hit one particular group harder than most: children and teens.
Adolescence is a tender age where young people develop important skills and begin to mature.
However, with the COVID-19 virus emerging just over two years ago, children and teens were thrown into an unfamiliar world where they struggled to keep up.
Schools closed down as positive cases began to rise, and students were expected to complete their schooling in the confines of their homes.
While this may have seemed like a luxury to some, many students struggled to complete their work without in-class guidance from their teachers.
One of the biggest issues for students was the lack of socialization that came with self isolating.
High school senior Olivia Bolt says that while “the flexibility of [online] school actually improved my mental health…over time, it became difficult not having any social interaction.”
“I hadn’t hugged someone other than my immediate family for about 6 months. I began to feel very isolated and lonely. This still affects me today.”
Schools desperately tried to keep up, but students still had trouble absorbing course material, and teachers struggled to find solutions.
As much as schools tried to maintain the structure and integrity of their lessons, Olivia admits that “it just wasn’t as effective as in-person help and learning,” and that “learning became optional and completely independent.”
When schools finally reopened, students were left in shambles after having not been in contact for so long.
Lucy Hambly, who is in the eighth grade, confesses that when things began to return to normal and students were sent back to school, “it was hard to get things back to the way they had been earlier…we had all been alone for such a long time.”
Although both Lucy and Olivia have returned back to school, they admit that the pandemic has robbed them of some invaluable experiences.
“One of the biggest struggles I’ve been dealing with is grieving the experiences I know I’ve missed out on due to the pandemic.” Olivia professes. “Even now, I still feel trapped and alone sometimes. I’ve been mourning all of the school field trips, small vacations, sleepovers, events I’ve missed out on, and times I couldn’t see my friends or make new ones for the past two years.”
Lucy shared a similar experience. “I definitely feel like I have missed out on quite a few important experiences. We haven’t been on field trips or out of the school as a class for about two and a half years now.”
Throughout the pandemic, children and teens have been deprived of so many important factors needed for their growth and development.
But as more citizens receive their vaccinations and mandates begin to ease up, we can only hope that things can return to normal for the sake of adolescents and for the sake of our community.