Kudos to all the university, college and high school kids who finished this challenging pandemic school year. Here’s why I am celebrating that achievement.
Pandemic learning was a huge challenge this year as was school in general. Socially, I feel like we haven’t given our kids enough credit for getting through the volatile and discombobulating pandemic school year they just had. Imagine being a teen or even an elementary child adapting to all of the stress and change that’s been thrown at them this year. If anything, I am surprised so many kept going to the very end of June.
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What I am Celebrating
Last month, my oldest daughter finished her first year of university done during a pandemic and my youngest finished grade eleven. I know many of you parents know what I mean when I say well that was a year like no other.
This past school year was chaos to say the least. Many high school students went back and forth all year. Two to three months in class and then boom back to at home remote learning through no fault of their own. Then when Covid-19 numbers dipped again some slid right back into the classrooms where smaller numbers of kids had been in cohorts. Finally, back to school and whoops suddenly Wave 3 of the pandemic hit in Ontario.
The Only Constant Was Disruption
The pandemic school year was nothing if not disruptive. At times, we nearly gave up here on high school because the pandemic school year was more than uphill especially since all supports vanished and suddenly I was basically doing the IEP here while juggling a full time job too.
Ontario students of all ages had a year like no other. Parents did too. I know how hard that was and think it’s worth noting. Parents and students made the greatest sacrifices this academic year. But it’s over.
Now let’s stay safe this summer, wear masks and get your second vaccines so school can return to some version of normal in September. We all owe that to kids and families in Ontario.
For my University Student
What a first year it was! She was literally on campus three times, two of those times were in the fall of 2020 for a social distancing paint night with masks on, to pick up something from the campus bookstore and join a study session. She hasn’t physically been on campus at all in 2021. Learning from home started as a huge adjustment and it was lonely at first but over time and by second semester it was clear she found a rhythm.
Our University Year
While people often took jabs at college and university students for spreading the virus, and there were numerous outbreaks in residences at Western University, this was not our experience. I don’t think a lot of students actually fell into the partying irresponsible group. The actual lived experience of many university and college students was pretty hobbit like and anxiety provoking. A lot, like Payton, were home learning all of their subjects from a corner of their bedrooms all year. Some students made it physically on campus two to three times to buy books or get their student activity card printed.
Anxiety impacted sleeping. My oldest worried often. So working on school all day in her bedroom was not conducive to restful sleep at night.
And Yet They Adapted
While it took several months for Payton to find her footing, she eventually did. Pandemic learning was less than ideal, but still she did it. By semester two I noticed a change mentally. She was reluctant and a bit depressed in September. As in, this is not what I signed up for but by January she was in the groove. Honestly, I was proud that she was making the best of it.
Meanwhile in High School
Here in our school district and province they segmented students into cohorts for consistency and size of classes. My youngest went to school some weeks for a whole two days, four hours each day. Ridiculous. For the rest of the week, classes occurred on Microsoft Teams or via Zoom style remote learning. By the end of the year they had given up. So, I decided we could drop the last course entirely. For a kid who loves sports, conducting all the sports at home online was a huge hurdle. It just wasn’t going to end well. My kiddo with FASD is a black and white thinker, and that’s part of the disability. So, doing sports without the team portion of it in person was a non starter.
But We Did It
So ultimately while both experiences were very different, we did it. We made it through the school year. Some of us emerged a little stronger and wiser and maybe more resilient. Some parents lost jobs as a result of the need to teach.
Believe me, this is nothing I would wish on any parent or student. But here’s to making it through!
ONWARDS to the Fall
I am hopeful September is an entirely different and consistent school experience. Our kids deserve it and need it. Frankly, we do too.