Teenagers need to remain positive amid COVID-19 struggles

It is important to remember that if we all do our part, there is hope.


Sacred Heart Greenwich

Sacred Heart Greenwich has implemented several changes to daily school life in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yes, teenagers face adversity every day because of COVID-19.  Under safety guidelines, daily routines, such as attending school and spending time with friends, went and often remain virtual.  These adjustments have resulted in additional stress and concern in teenagers, ultimately leading to a negative outlook.  Even with an experimental vaccine in development and rising hopes of an eventual return to normalcy, specialists continue to advise following COVID-19 guidelines in order to slow the virus’s spread.  Although it is currently hard to maintain a positive mindset, it is important to remember that if we all do our part, there is hope. 

Last March, schools across the country began distance learning in response to an increasing number of COVID-19 cases.  In Connecticut, there have been 93,284 reported cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, according to The New York Times.  However, many Connecticut schools, such as Sacred Heart Greenwich, opted to open their doors to students this fall, while adhering to the recommended Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) safety guidelines.  Schools across the country have implemented precautionary measures, such as social distancing, mask-wearing, hand washing, and surface disinfecting, to avoid the spread of COVID-19, according to cdc.gov

Socially distanced desks contribute to a safe learning environment during the coronavirus pandemic.  Courtesy of Lindsay Benza ’23

In an interview, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health, and Mr. Ned Lamont, Governor of Connecticut, spoke about the importance of reopening Connecticut schools.

“My approach is always, and I’ll say it whether I’m in Connecticut or in any other place, is that the default position should be to try as best as you possibly can, to try to open up the schools for in-person learning,” Dr. Fauci said, according to ctpost.com.

Although some schools are open and are doing their best to create a positive atmosphere for students, the usual high school experience has undeniably changed.  Teenagers are struggling socially, academically, and athletically.  During lunch and breaks throughout the day, faculty discourage students from gathering in groups.  As students attempt to avoid close contact with friends in order to prevent themselves and others from spreading the virus, they lose the valuable social aspect of school.  In the classroom, students find their learning environment vastly different from prior years.  The masks and socially distanced desks create a barrier between the students and the teacher.  

Senior Lara Patricio emphasized the importance of following COVID-19 safety guidelines in order to keep herself and others safe.

“My life has especially changed during this pandemic as I have two high-risk people in my family,” Lara said.  “This means I have to be very cautious when I see friends or go out in public and make sure I am always wearing a mask and social distancing to make sure that I am not putting their lives in danger.”

Student-athletes have also been facing struggles while attempting to remain socially distant when playing contact sports and wearing masks when training.  The safety measures detract from the main enjoyment of playing sports, making it difficult to maintain motivation and foster a sense of team spirit.  Teenagers want to do their part to help the pandemic come to an end, but the changes in their lives have made them feel overwhelmed and helpless.

During her role as varsity soccer co-captain this past fall sports season, Lara and her team encountered difficulties. 

“The soccer team wasn’t able to compete in the FAA or New England’s tournaments, so we only played friendly games against schools around us,” Lara said.  “This also impacted the dynamic of the team as we weren’t able to have frequent team dinners, use the locker rooms like we usually do, and we weren’t able to use the bus rides as bonding opportunities.”

Dr. Lisa Schwartz, School Psychologist and Upper School Health Teacher, spoke about how teenagers can persevere through these unusual times. 

“You have every right to complain but it’s also very important to look at the positives too,” Dr. Schwartz said.  “Prioritize socially distanced fun and be kind to yourself.  Get plenty of rest and carve out time to exercise and sit still.”

In an interview with the American Medical Association (AMA), Dr. Fauci highlighted the urgency of mask-wearing with the promising result of slowing the spread of COVID-19.

“What we need is to get the message across that we are all in this together,” Dr. Fauci said, according to ama-assn.org.  “And it’s important because one of the purposes of the masks is that if you may be inadvertently walking around not knowing you’re infected.”

This chart shows that following safety guidelines slows the spread of COVID-19.  Courtesy of health.harvard.edu

If individuals continue to follow protective measures, it will reduce the risk of overwhelming the health care system and lower the number of cases, according to health.harvard.eduIn addition, companies like Pfizer and BioNTech are striving to create an effective COVID-19 vaccine.  Dr. Albert Bourla, Chairman and CEO of Pfizer, shared an update November 9 regarding the progress of the vaccine.

“Today is a great day for science and humanity,” Dr. Bourla said, according to pfizer.com.  “The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19.  We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen.”

As individuals are adhering to COVID-19 guidelines and potential effective vaccines are beginning to emerge, there is hope that in the near future, the virus, along with the health and safety concerns pertaining to it, will no longer be an issue.  In order to see change, we must all do our part to protect each other and contain the virus, even though there are hardships that come with doing so.  Eventually, we will see a return to normalcy, and teenagers will be able to safely return to their normal activities.  For now, we must all work together to navigate through the struggles that accompany following safety guidelines.

Even though the restrictions have affected Lara, especially in her athletic activities, she continues to do her best to remain optimistic, while keeping herself and others safe.

“I definitely get annoyed with these restrictions but I keep on telling myself that this is better than online school which is what millions of students around the world are forced to do,” Lara said.  “I also try to make the best out of it.  For example, in the soccer season, I was really upset we didn’t get to actually compete for the FAA or the New England’s title, so it was a more relaxed season with fun practices which gave me more free time to do schoolwork and college applications.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Sacred Heart Greenwich