Hidden behind the mask


Illustration by K. Draine

Mill Stream Staff

Coming back to school has been a huge struggle for most people, and it’s hard to hide it. The constant changes to schedules, procedures, and school in general, has made it more difficult to adjust. This year is different than anything we’ve ever experienced before, but even with all the differences, we are handling it very well.

Although we’re beginning to adapt to these changes, that doesn’t mean this situation isn’t inconsistent. Students are finding it stressful not knowing what will happen, and scared that everything could change at any given moment. Our entire world could change, and the certainty of that is completely unknown. From schedules changes, to wondering if the student sitting next to you is growing a fever, we are always thinking about what could happen, and if it’ll happen to us. And if it wasn’t enough already, the stress and anxiety from the inconsistency around the school is eminently not helping. With every teacher being different, it’s hard to tell what your day will look like until you get there. Ranging from zoom calls, to Wi-Fi crashing, to students leaving in the middle of the day to quarantine, it’s strenuous trying to keep up.

Nothing ever seems to stay the same for long, and our days are flying by faster and faster. From the start of the school year to now, we have had two different schedules, and although the new one is easier to remember it can still be confusing at times. The original schedule left kids unsure of what days they were learning from home or at school, and the new schedule, although easier still has some defaults. Students’ deadlines are getting mixed together and it is hard to remember what is due when. Class deadlines, and E-Learning deadlines get combined and switched, and even if you try to keep organized, it still somehow gets messed up. Some students end up rushing to get their work done as soon as they can because they just can’t quite remember when it’s due. Many teachers are allowing students to turn in work soon after the deadline, because they’re people too and understand how difficult this new way of life is.

Everyone knows that all of this is out of the ordinary for us, and we’re all still adapting to the changes and regulations. When students are away from school, many don’t have to wear masks on a daily basis or try to stay six feet apart from their friends or acquaintances, making it more difficult and annoying to follow all the guidelines at school. Throughout the school day, students are reminded to wear their mask correctly, and yet when walking down the hallway or sitting in class, some people wear their masks incorrectly, or practically don’t have it on at all. Lunch is another time we see a guideline being broken. Although the staff have spent time marking points every six feet for people to stand, the cafeteria lines still get crowded and students barely stand two feet from others. Everyone understands that wearing a mask isn’t the most comfortable thing, and standing six feet from your friend isn’t fun, but isn’t it worth it to protect those around you? It is impossible to know who is protecting a loved one who is high risk, so it’s incredibly important to follow all the guidelines. They’re there for a reason.

Everyone knows that this school year is unlike any other we’ve had so far, and we are all still getting used to this change. The only thing we can do is stick together, and try to remain positive, although it may be difficult. We don’t know what next semester, or even next week, will look like, but if we work together, and follow all the safety protocols given by the school and the health department, then maybe things will start to go back to normal.