Coping with COVID: Round 2

Students at Blue Valley West voice the ups and downs on living through the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic

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Lucy Call

Throughout the last year and a half, the destructive COVID-19 pandemic has threatened the lives of millions of people and flipped the way we live. We’ve all had to adapt to the difficult circumstances, whether by masking up, getting the vaccine, or staying at home and away from large crowds.

During the spring of 2021, hopeful feelings emerged towards the defeat of the COVID-19 pandemic as vaccines became available to Americans. Over the summer, President Biden’s goal of 70% of adults being vaccinated was close to being met, and it seemed like things were returning to normal as cases reached a significant low.

In Johnson County, the face-mask mandate in public places was lifted. More people began enjoying congregated events and holiday gatherings again. It seemed like things could return to normal, however, the virus didn’t let up for long.

The emergence of deadly variants, such as the Delta variant, has spread fast across the U.S.–and have changed our lives once again.

Students at Blue Valley West have felt the losses of many school activities and events in the last two years. This year, West has taken action to try and reinstate spirited events that have been missed, such as the school assemblies. Senior Lauren D’souza said, “I haven’t really liked the outdoor assemblies so far… but I still prefer them to no assemblies.”

More students were happy with the return of the homecoming dance. “I thought they handled it responsibly with the 40-minute shifts,” D’souza said. “I think we’re all grateful for those things, especially seniors.”

Although the school’s mandate of face masks can be frustrating, many students understand that with such a large concentration of people in one place, high risks may emerge if they weren’t worn.

BV West freshman Emme Call felt hardships with the learning format during the 2020-2021 school year.

“I’d rather us wear masks all the time than have to go back to online school,” freshman Emme Call said. “I had a hard time learning that way, and I don’t want to deal with it again.”

Having all students–no matter what letter their last name starts with–at school in person has improved spirits and helped meet the need for students to socialize.

“I think the mask mandate is a good idea because I really don’t want to go back to Zoom [for classes]… it made me sad not to see anyone in person,” D’souza said.

Ultimately, the hardships brought on by Delta and the debates over masks and vaccinations have put strain on everyone. The pandemic’s reign over the last 18 months has taken too many lives and shut too many doors.

The loss of the small things we never thought could go away, such as being able to eat with all our friends during JAG or getting to have large assemblies in the gym, has been devastating. Yet, students at West have hope for reaching normalcy again–and being able to keep it.

“I’m just glad I don’t have to start high school doing hybrid,” Call said. “I had a hard time learning that way and I don’t want to deal with it again. I hope one day we won’t have to worry about it anymore.”