High schoolers seniors need COVID support

Sam Jefferson, Opinion Columnist

Editor’s note: This article was updated at 4:44 p.m., March 11, 2021, to remove a source from the piece. The source in question was later deemed to not meet our credibility standards. 

March 12th, 2020, my last day of regular school. An email was shot out by my high school that evening announcing a two-week cancellation due to COVID-19, expecting a return on March 30th. 

It’s been more than 7 months since that email, my high school is still fully online as are many others across the country.

Come this summer, it seems increasingly likely current seniors will have lost their last 3 semesters to Zoom classes. And yet, despite losing out on more class time, I’ve seen much less support from the schools, teachers and even celebrities throughout America when it comes to this year’s seniors. 

The last one I mention with a grain of salt.

Seniors everywhere this year deserve the same support the class of 2020 received. Navigating through your final year with the challenge of a worldwide pandemic is no easy task.

Two seniors here at Burlington High School, Anessa Conner and Ayden Flanigan echoed this, life as a senior is tough.

On September 16th, BHS decided to close school, not actually because of COVID, but because of an alarmingly high level of PCBs, a chemical dangerous to consume in large amounts.

“Doing work at home is such a different atmosphere, I feel like when we’re just sitting inside our house all day our brains have less capacity to do work,” said Flanigan. 

This is something many students can relate too, long Zoom days are grueling.

BHS senior Anessa Conner has also felt the effects of remote learning.

“I don’t really feel like a high school senior because my senior year isn’t happening, because I feel like so much of what makes you a senior is the school’s traditions that you do,” she said. 

 And the issues of being a senior right now go deeper than missing out on the fun traditions and events.

Sara Fargo, another college counselor from Northern California said that schools going test optional has been tough for her students.

“Some schools have gone test-optional, which has been hard for some kids who studied hard for the test. I really feel for them on that,” she said.

Things like tests disappearing can be measured, what can’t be measured is the effect this has on these kids mental health.

“It’s much more stressful, and harder emotionally. And with no end in sight during the school year it’s really hard, I start off each of my sessions with students asking ‘how are you’ and commemorating about these times,” said Fargo.

This is why I feel for the class of 2021.

I was lucky enough to have all the tools needed to get through the college application process, but these seniors aren’t. If I hadn’t had in person school at the time I know those stress induced months of essay writing would’ve been that much harder.

I remember waking up each day without being able to get past brushing my teeth before I thought “common app common app commonappcommonappcommanapp.” 

I had a college counselor at my school to meet with, and a writing coach my parents provided me. I could ask teachers at school for advice.

Having people around to guide you through such a tumultuous time helps a student succeed but more importantly is an essential destresser.

“I haven’t seen my teachers in 7 months and yet I’m asking them for rec letters and stuff like that. I’m just trying to figure this stuff out without really knowing what I’m doing,” said Flanigan.

Flanigan isn’t alone in his uncertainty.

“I feel like adults understand the feelings of not knowing what I’m doing, but don’t understand how impactful it is to have those feelings during a pandemic when nobody is connected and everything’s up in the air,” said Conner.

All of this makes me wonder why high schools aren’t putting in the same effort to support seniors again. 

Maybe they’ll offer more emotional support in the second semester, but why wait?

And I think more than anything these kids deserve to feel the emotional support I felt last year as a senior. Especially because I was lucky enough to have a home computer, my friends to waste away on Xbox with, and confidence my parents would keep their jobs. 

Not everybody has those luxuries during remote school, and I think it’d mean a lot for us, and colleges to let high school seniors know they’re being thought and empathized with.

So, if you’re a friend, mom, dad, counselor, sibling, or teacher to a senior in high school, make a little extra effort if you haven’t already to let them know you want to help them through the year.

I think it’d mean a lot.