The Effects of COVID-19 Restrictions on Students

Senior+Alexis+Bradshaw+throws+shot+put+at+a+track+meet+in+Geneseo%2C+IL.+Her+2020+throwing+season+was+cut+short+because+of+early+COVID-19+restrictions%2C+but+it+is+set+to+resume+in+April+of+2021.

Photo by Ann Janecek

Senior Alexis Bradshaw throws shot put at a track meet in Geneseo, IL. Her 2020 throwing season was cut short because of early COVID-19 restrictions, but it is set to resume in April of 2021.

It has been over a year since the first positive cases of COVID-19 were reported in the United States. Since then, a series of events have snowballed to the point where social distancing and mask wearing have become an everyday occurrence. It’s obvious that for today’s teens, the very structure of their day-to-day lives have been altered, and there are bound to be varying effects. Students’ diverse interests have impacted their perceptions of what they miss most and what they’ll learn from their unique experiences.

Kaneland District 302, along with other districts in the surrounding area, adopted a hybrid learning plan to accommodate COVID-19 restrictions. In this system, half of the student body is allowed in the building at a time. Split alphabetically by last name, there was no attention to social structures when this plan was put into motion. For sophomore Emily Biala, this meant that she spent more time alone, and less time focusing on her friend groups. 

“I’m a big introvert, and I used this time as an excuse to completely isolate myself which made me happy, but also made me unintentionally neglect my friends. Having to see people more often once school started really drained me,” Biala said.

Biala isn’t the only one who feels this way. Restrictions created by both the school and government have left students with a lower threshold for social interactions. Teens who would once consider themselves extroverts now spend the majority of their time alone. This isn’t always a bad thing. Senior Abigail Peeler used her newfound spare time as an opportunity for self-exploration.

“I started doing yoga and meditating in my free time. It really helped me be present in the moment and take time out of my day for introspection. I definitely miss hanging out with all of my friends, but this time by myself has been very valuable,” Peeler said.

Social lives weren’t the only things affected by the pandemic. Most school sports and activities were canceled or postponed to try and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Now, things are slowly beginning to open back up. Although students are hopeful about the reopening, they still are wary as to what this will mean. Senior Alexis Bradshaw was upset to see her 2020 sports season cut short, but she is hopeful that this year will bring some form of normalcy to her senior year.

“I was involved in basketball and track when COVID-19 first started making its way to the U.S. Then in March of 2020, when the world pretty much was put on stop, I missed out on my junior season of track,” Bradshaw said. “I’ve heard that the season will begin again this upcoming April, but I doubt it will be the same. It really stinks. I’m in sports because I love them. I hope to see some remnants of a regular senior season this year.”