As we begin a new year and a new semester, there is also a third looming “new.” That is the new COVID-19 variant omicron. That also may conjure up new emotions for this upcoming semester. Some may feel scared, worried, or burnt out before they step foot into the classroom. Just the thought of another COVID-19 ridden semester may seem to cause a certain dread looming over the first few days of class this week.
Students on the EIU campus are not the only ones feeling the pressure. As of Sunday night, Chicago Public School (CPS) teachers will not be returning to the classroom for a sixth day. CPS was set to start school right after the New Year holiday on January third. The Chicago Teachers’ Union (CTU) and Chicago’s municipal government have been at a legal war.
CTU is fighting saying that the schools are not safe to return to in-person learning but are willing to work remotely. The municipal government, with mayor Lori Lightfoot as a leader, has been fighting saying that the schools are safe to return to and that testing and other COVID-19 protocols are creating a safe environment.
Stuck in the middle of this battle are students. Students who are just trying to get through another year of learning in the era of COVID-19. Students who are just trying to make their way through the most crucial years of their lives. Teachers are trying to educate their students and prepare them for life through a computer screen when they should have been hands on in a classroom.
COVID-19 has been fear for teachers. They are faced with the fear of being exposed to COVID-19, possibly by twenty plus students. It is an unseen obstacle for new and veteran teachers they never saw coming and after two years, they are still figuring out how to navigate.
During these almost two years, I have seen more students lose their motivation and passion than ever before. Students have taken the hardest hit from the pandemic. The aftermath of all of this is yet to come. Students’ daily routines and way of learning have been so greatly impacted.
I know the way I study and learn has been impacted. Even smaller things like my attention span have been affected. After being online and having distractions while at home, I noticed I can barely keep my focus on lectures. My ability to sit in person and actively listen to someone speak has been affected. It is the smaller details that we will start to notice as we return to the “normal” way of things.
Will we see an era of learners who struggle in person, but were “raised” during virtual learning? I guess we will have just have to wait until the future becomes the present.
Ellen Dooley is a freshman special education major. She can be contacted at 581-2812 or [email protected]