One Year Strong: A Reflection of COVID-19 Lessons and Blessings

 In Community

“First-period chemistry concluded, and I shifted to second-period English. The day seemed normal, but we all knew that, as we went from class to class, people… were out shopping and waiting in line for two hours just to check out their few items. The shelves were practically empty. Then, the bell [signaling the end of second-period] rang, and everyone’s phone lit up. I made it into the lunchroom for chapel and break, and that’s when I learned the news: a case of coronavirus had just been confirmed positive in Montgomery.… Little did I know that [the next day,] Friday, March 13,… was the last time I would see my [teachers, peers, and] friends in-person.… I said goodbye to them at the door, not even thinking twice that this was goodbye for a [very] long time.”

It has been just over one year since I wrote this, journaling the days and weeks to come, recounting the chaos that had suddenly enveloped my life in a blur of Zoom meetings, panic-shopping, and mask-wearing as COVID-19 forced everyone to adopt a new “normal.” At first, many, including myself, thought this was an overreaction, but we could not have been more wrong. Soon, our family members and friends were being carried away to hospitals, and the rest of us could only walk, form a large, socially-distanced circle, and pray.

Now, more than a year later, the world is different. COVID-19 is still running its course, but we have grown. In honor of our collective attempts to wear masks, social distance, and practice good hygiene, we should celebrate our sacrifices with the loved ones we have protected. In honor of those who have fought this virus, lost loved ones, and those who have won the battle, this anniversary should be a time of reflection, a chance to look back and examine just how far we have come.

No one’s story is the same, and indeed, everyone has reaped different lessons from this past year. However, amidst all of the discrepancies, we have undoubtedly shared many experiences, including:

Online Classes or Teleworking
Monday, March 16 – “all of us struggled to adjust to the new order of things….we watched videos.… [teachers] posted our… assignments on Google Classroom, where we would have to upload pictures of our work, and we completed our own guided notes by scrolling through a PowerPoint….it was a lot to juggle.”

Shopping Trauma
Tuesday, March 17 – “Many of the shelves were empty, and the workers…were struggling to replenish the stocks. I had to buy toilet paper (there had just been a new shipment) and toothpaste, and the cost was outrageous.”

House Cleaning Marathons
Tuesday, March 24 – “washing the baseboards, dusting, and vacuuming”
Wednesday, March 25 – “family laundry room day”
Sunday, March 29 – “power wash the driveway”

And a multitude of other small things. For example, the development of a profound appreciation for Google Calendar or an unfathomable hatred for meal-planning.

All of this to say, we have done a lot! I can’t be the only one to have started several puzzles out of pure boredom, can I? In any case, despite the circumstances, annoyances, and hours of confinement in our homes, we realized the blessings we used to take for granted. Now, I cherish the time I spend with my friends and family more than ever as it’s never certain I will get to see them the next day. I am so grateful that I get to sit in school with a teacher at the front of the room, my peers around me, and the ability to physically engage with the material. I am so lucky to have only lost one family member to this virus and to have strengthened my relationship with Christ as He has pulled me and the ones I love through this storm.

In early May last year, there were days when I would wake up and check the pandemic statistics to find that, as I had slept, over one thousand people in the United States, alone, had lost their lives to COVID-19. By the time school concluded for the year, I was extremely thankful that most people in my life were safe, but there was still this constant sentiment of overwhelming sadness. My family’s trips were canceled; it was too dangerous for me to visit with my friends in the case that my family needed to care for my grandparents; and I could do little more than read, draw, or write alone in my bedroom.

However, with two months of summer vacation ahead of me, I soon got creative! Like many other people, I experimented with new hobbies and activities. My family watched movies or played board games every night after dinner. We went outside for walks or to toss a frisbee back and forth, and we even went camping at some state parks, which we have not done together since I was very young. On my own, I exercised my culinary skills, baking everything from basic chocolate chip cookies to scones. I worked out and ran almost every morning before the heat set in, and I tried new music genres, which, in turn, inspired me to adapt my writing style to a variety of new and exciting subjects that I had never had the time to explore before.

Maybe not everyone experimented with the same activities as me, but in some way, everyone was able to try their hands at new hobbies. In my case, I loved all of them, and hopefully, each person found something they enjoyed, too. As difficult as this time was, I would never want to take it back, not when I learned so much.

However, that does not mean I was any less excited for school to start when it did. Despite the long months of work lying ahead of me, sitting in the same room as my peers was an unexpected gift. We laughed and talked together, just as we had before, even with the masks and socially-distanced seating arrangements. I was even more surprised to find that sports seasons would happen with precautions. It is fantastic to realize that PCA has been able to continue “normal” in such abnormal circumstances. With adjusted schedules and new regulations, students like myself have been able to actively learn in the classroom, and that has not changed all year. Unlike many other schools in the area, we have remained in-person for the entire school year. This accomplishment is all thanks to the work our faculty and staff have done to keep us safe as well as academically-stimulated.

Proudly, we can stand up and claim that we are one year strong! It has not been easy, but as a PCA family, we have worked through the challenges and overcome them to keep everyone safe. Now, let us continue the trend. To honor those who lost their battle with the virus, let us continue to wear our masks, social distance, and practice good hygiene.

Together, we can remain a safe learning environment and protect those around us!

By: Maddie Jeffery ’22
Journalism Student

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