This article was contributed by San Benito High School student Malia Chang.
In mid-March, students and their parents received an email that San Benito High School would close the school for one week to halt the spread of COVID-19. What was the plan for teachers? What would students do during the week?
The following week, teachers held a meeting to discuss their plans, later emailing students the work they had been assigned before the school closure notification.
Many students were encouraged to review their work, since not all work was expected to be turned in. This is because not all students have the resources to complete or turn in work. A few days after the shelter-in-place was ordered on March 17, SBHS announced the school closure would extend through the spring semester. Students worried about the impact this would have on fellow students and teachers.
“School is a way for me to be productive and educate myself,” said SBHS junior Cathy Nguyen. “I’m a visual and auditory learner, I have to see and hear teachers’ lectures to be able to understand and process information.”
She was concerned about the future, too.
“How long will this last? What would be our next step?” Nguyen asked. “I’m scared I will lose memory of my classes’ notes/lecture and won’t be able to perform my best during my AP exams.”
For other students, the closure was unexpected.
Senior Alexis Lozano said she was surprised, because “up until the day the school had announced closure, it seemed as if the school had not taken this virus seriously. Many teachers said that they weren’t sure the school would even close, so it was very abrupt when they did decide to close the school.”
During the shelter-in-place order, Lozano has been helping her family by babysitting nieces and reviewing school work with a focus on AP exams. She said she is most concerned about the “lack of equity that we have amongst students because not everyone has resources for distance learning.”
She added that people “should not bulk-buy and stock up on unnecessary items because there are people within our community who are unable to find these items. People live paycheck to paycheck and aren’t able to find or afford items if people are panic buying and are being selfish.”
These are stressful times for SBHS seniors. They are almost halfway through the spring grading period and planning for their future, finalizing scholarships, submitting transcripts and deciding which college they will attend. The virus has set back all these efforts, and more.
Many events were postponed or cancelled such as prom, finale rally, carnival, and the dance concert. Other events such as Spring Air Jam, ASB banquet, and graduation have been moved to a virtual format. For virtual graduation, seniors will be able to create their own slide with a photo and a message so their accomplishments can be shared with family and friends.
“I felt very sad the school was closing due to COVID-19,” freshman Anthony Weathers said. “Personally, I love school.”
He expressed concern for the people who have contracted COVID-19, saying “I don’t want them suffering.” As for his own challenges, “The most frustrating thing so far is trying to figure out my homework. I don’t understand it by myself. Of course I will have help, but not in-person help.”
SBHS students have nonetheless been able to find ways to connect. Distance learning allows students to see their peers and teachers on Zoom. Students are staying in touch, and SBHS media outlets have covered topics such as graduating seniors’ future plans and spirit days that include taking a picture with their family wearing San Benito High School merchandise.