How COVID-19 has affected my world: A youth perspective

April 22, 2021

By La’Morianna Robertson-Holland

La’Morianna Robertson-Holland

March 13, 2021 has marked one year since the world had been flipped upside down. What came with it wasn’t just a global freak-out; it was also a field day for the media. The world had so many opinions from this time. Many thought 2020 was cursed. I feel they had valid reasoning to believe this. Others thought the world was coming to an end. Some even thought the entire pandemic was a hoax and glossed over its seriousness (we shall not name anyone). Although, the opinion of a Milwaukee Public School (MPS) student is one I have not heard, in particular, an eighth grade MPS student. They have so much to consider from their familiar elementary and middle school settings. During their enforced, year-long time away from the classroom, teachers, support staff and classmates will all change. In addition, COVID-19 added new things to worry about: the terrifying possibility your freshman year could be in front of a computer screen. That does not include our great friends, increased anxiety and raging hormones. So, let’s take this time to hear it straight from a teenager’s mouth.

My name is La’Morianna and I am an eighth-grade MPS student. I know that my teachers are no strangers to complaints; however, teaching and learning in a virtual classroom has increased complaints. And if complaints have increased then so has student frustration. As a virtual student, I know firsthand the stress and confusion that come with being in the virtual world. In our once traditional classroom setup, I wouldn’t struggle as much as I do now in math. My classroom teachers and support staff would have time to assist and support me with questions I might have regarding solving algebraic equations. Our classes were an hour long instead of just 30 minutes. This would give us adequate time to process the information, ask clarifying questions, then be allowed time to start or complete the assignment. My strategy would normally consist of completing the in-class assignment and then transition to any incomplete homework. Although, with that limited amount of time, things aren’t the same.

With online learning, more often than not, assignments are due by 11:59 p.m., which is an ample amount of time to submit the work. That comes in handy on Fridays when common work and tests pile up. At times CTRL+C (copy selected text) and CTRL+V (paste selected text) can be your best friends when it’s something necessary to copy down like notes or a formula that will be helpful on a test, copying and pasting the information into a Google Document is easy and convenient. Dictation is great for speeding up writing time because it’s efficient and exceptionally more professional and neater for things like literary assignments. It has its flaws, but using Google Classroom has provided a student-friendly alternative to the brick-and-mortar classroom and I feel my teachers would agree.

As I embark upon my transition into high school, I reflect on what is necessary in order to be properly prepared for what is to come. Open houses and orientations have taken on a different format because of our current world. I would have appreciated the experience of walking into the doors of my future high school instead of viewing a pre-recorded alternative to these pivotal events. As someone who wears glasses, sitting in front of a television for an extended amount of time can be a challenge for me, let alone being required to sit in front of a computer screen for six or more hours a day. The blue light from the computer monitor is harmful to the human eye, and not only for people with impaired vision. Tactile students, learners who learn best when they are able physically to touch or try out something, were pushed to adjust their learning styles by discovering alternative ways to understand the concepts of our digital lessons. Students have to opt for the extensive process of writing everything down just to understand the material.

One of the biggest obstacles I believe many people overlooked was the mental and emotional strain of being a part of this virtual world. As a student, you would engage in conversations with your classmates as you transitioned to the next class. You wouldn’t feel the way you do now: a robot repeating the same task and the same schedule every day. You feel stuck and high school is your chance to stop the cycle, but when your chances are low then so will be your hopes, goals, and aspirations. So, I am making a plea to my fellow eighth-grade students: Engage in productive activities that you once loved and see how much it changes your mood. Many people take walks or simply soak up the vitamin D and oxygen nature provides. Wear that outfit you’ve been holding off on. Watch that show you’ve been dying to see. Take a nap or sleep for 12 hours on the weekend because no one will stop you. Reward yourself with weekend and holiday breaks. Just do it, because you never know the amazing opportunities you could acquire like having your writing published. Life has its peaks and valleys, but remember your college acceptance letter is waiting for you; your scholarship is waiting for you; and your empire is waiting for you. For your own sake, please don’t keep them waiting any longer than necessary.

La’Morianna Robertson-Holland is an eighth-grade honor student at Frederick J. Gaenslen School. She is interested in pursuing a career as a newspaper journalist.