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Student’s-eye view of school during COVID

Updated: Sep 15

Today Magazine and contributor Noelle Blake received an SPJ award for this article in 2021 — it was originally published in the December 2020 edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication, and remains relevant today


By Noelle Blake — Special to Today Magazine


I’ve always prepared for school the night before. The list is some iteration of the following: pack lunch, choose an outfit, make sure I have the correct folders for the next school day, so on and so forth. This year, however, I’ve added a cloth mask and a desk shield to my nightly routine.

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This is the new reality of every student in school this year, and as an Avon High School junior, I feel that I have quite enough to worry about already. My own grievances aside, there are many changes to education as we previously knew it that make the school environment completely different for everyone involved.


First off, school is now a strictly learning environment. Wasn’t it always?

Maybe, but it certainly didn’t feel that way. Sports, clubs, school events and friends provided sufficient balance to counteract the challenges that school poses for every student. I used to look forward to participating in as many aspects of the school community as I could. Interactions with my peers and teachers before, during and after school tended to brighten my day and keep me enthusiastic about learning.


Right now, Zoom calls and emails are the alternative option for social interaction, and I’m learning to live with that.


Some students have chosen to learn while fully remote, so they have even more limited interaction. I opted for the hybrid model for the first semester — one student group attends school in person on Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday is a remote day for everyone, and a second group goes into school on Thursday and Friday.

Someday, I’d like to high-five instead of elbow-bump or some other weird air gesture that comes with the territory of safety precautions

Either option is appropriate, considering some students may need the support of teachers and lessons in person instead of facing the barriers of online education. But as I see COVID cases in the U.S. worsen rather than improve, I start to have doubts about what really is the “right” thing to do.


So, how will the rest of the school year go? I don’t know. I have hopes that someday in the near future, people can be together again without undertones of apprehension being at the forefront of everyone’s minds.


Someday, I’d like to high-five instead of elbow-bump or some other weird air gesture that comes with the territory of safety precautions.


But more than all of that, I’d like the world to feel normal again. Not “new normal” — just normal. And I’m willing to stay home for a decade if it means people will eventually be safe, healthy and happy again. +


Currently a senior at Avon High, Hartford resident Noelle Blake was a junior when this article was published in December 2020 — she has attended Avon schools since kindergarten


• Blake and Today Magazine received a second-place SPJ award in 2021 for this effort in Connecticut's COVID News magazine category — she also received a first-place award for a separate story in the General Column category

• SPJ = Society of Professional Journalists

Awards Story — Nine more SPJ awards for Today Magazine


• This article first appeared in the December 2020 edition of Today Magazine, our monthly publication

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