Welcome Back (our new classmate, COVID)

We’re four weeks into the long-anticipated 2021-2022 term, but what can we actually take away from our in-person year, with our newest classmate among us?


Illustration by Krystka Mariano.

The inevitably dreadful “back to school season” has sprawled a new slew of murky feelings, just like the ever-so reckoning event we fell victim to 18 months ago– COVID-19. A month of saying “hello” not to new people, but to new versions of ourselves; teachers teaching classes of virtually in-person students, and a craze of scare administrators navigating ‘protective protocols.’ In the hands of a relentless pandemic of change, it’s safe to say that in this school year, everyone is just… trying.


Seeing new faces is nothing new. Walking into classrooms, both new or familiar, felt like the standard for the first week of school. But rather than absorbing the shock of high school and conquests of ‘fitting-in’, the beginning of this year was soaked in nothing but a bunch of, “What if’s…?” or “Why’s…?” 


What if we go back to the abominable online-school? Why do the ‘safety’ protocols suck so much? What’s going to happen now?


This year marks my fourth and final year in a place so familiar, yet so untouched to me. Out of the 2 weeks back, a simple phrase I heard thrown around here and there, by peers and teachers alike, is one I will probably use to define every ounce of incoming change whether I like it or not– “Everyone is learning.” 


Hearing it at first seemed so ironic. Learning at school? Isn’t that the nature of this whole institution we’ve been devoting ourselves to, for the past 12 years or so? 


But hearing it particularly this year, being looped again and again, meant something entirely different. We are learning to be better, how to bring back normalcy ounce-by-ounce, and learning how to appreciate the current moment of living.


In an era of unfamiliarity, asking questions seems like the savior tool of coping. Even more so important, it seems, is to accept the coming changes that act as answers to our never-ending questions.


This moment of obscurity barging in our lives, unveils one universal truth as we come to fight against this battle of change– everyone is trying their best.  It all works in the same way, like how a freshman is engrossing the challenges of a new social-atmosphere, or how short-staffed admins wrestle with incoming pressure, COVID concerns, and complaints.


Cut yourself, and everyone else, some slack. No one knows where we’re headed, and that’s okay. This school year is a conquest like no other.


Simply put: if there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s certainly to expect the unexpected. In the past year, the revelation of ugliness in people was certainly shown, juxtaposed along with the underlying beauty that was discovered within ourselves (thanks to ‘a little bit’ of alone time). 


This Back-to-School season welcomes not only new students, teachers, and staff. The corona virus is our newest, most important, classmate among us. Come what may, for the 2021-2022 term, but the best way to combat unprecedented change lies simple and certain: do your part. Keep your mask on (correctly), follow the protocols (no matter how much of a hassle it may seem), and be open for change.