Return to School and Covid-19

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Gabriela '21

The following blog post was written by Gabriela, Class of 2021 

Coming back to school in the time of Covid-19 has been nothing like I expected since transitioning to distance learning in March.

I never expected to have at most, six to seven students in my classroom with me, or being six feet apart from my peers, while watching the rest of my classmates on a screen sitting in their homes. I never thought that each day, I would be sitting outside during my free time rather than the places in the building that I usually hang out when away from the classroom. I also never expected to not see the bottom half of my peers’ faces on a regular basis, to pick up my lunch in a to-go bag rather than wait in the painful lines of the crowded cafeteria, or even to only be physically on campus once every other week.

PC has found ways to fulfill the wants and needs of the community in a creative and practical way.

Though an odd transition, the Penn Charter community has continued to work through the obstacles that come with social distancing. Whether it be the new game a teacher found to help engage the class while virtual, or having students determine a path forward for their clubs and activities to be safe and keep students involved, we're working through it. Whether it’s the schedules for athletes to safely practice and train for their sports, or creating a completely new approach to Penn Charter Performing Arts with a new virtual play, PC has found ways to fulfill the wants and needs of the community in a creative and practical way.

students sit in a circle in a tent with blue curtain sides pulled back

A class in an outdoor learning tent.

Hesitant to accept these changes at the start of the school year, I was bitter. As a senior who had waited since their arrival to PC for all the traditions and expectations that come with this year, it's no surprise that I was actually very angry before coming back to campus and seeing all of the changes the school made. I was frustrated with the dangers that came with practicing my passions of singing and acting, and most of all, I was upset that I could only see some of my friends each week due to the difference of “color teams.” This is all valid, and the obstacles that come with Covid-19 are hard for anyone to deal with, but once I saw the hard work that the PC staff was putting in and the way teachers opened up about their personal struggles and feeling towards Covid, I was reminded that this moment was something the whole community was going through and trying to wrestle with.

As the year continued, my perspective began to change.

As the year continued, my perspective began to change. Though the traditions were not presented in the way I originally expected, PC made every effort to make this year special for seniors. To replace our planned Senior Retreat, we had a fun bonding day outside on the PC campus. In addition to our current indoor Senior Lounge, the faculty and staff went the extra step and made us a bigger one outdoors, still being enhanced with student input. Even just the other day we had a senior breakfast where the whole grade was treated to free breakfast foods before school.

These changes to PC student life were some of the best adaptations made for the benefit of the community as a whole in order to help us cope with the current state of our country.

Mostly male students sit in white plastic easy chairs outside in a circle

The outdoor Senior Lounge.

As soon as I came back to school and realized the level of effort each person was putting in, and the ways the school had been trying to make us comfortable, I came to appreciate Penn Charter more than I had previously.

I came to appreciate Penn Charter more than I had previously.

Once I changed my perspective a bit, it became more enjoyable coming back rather than a constant reminder of what was different and abnormal, which allowed me to better adapt to the situation myself.

Instead of not being happy with the initial changes that needed to be made, I am now able to appreciate the benefits that come with them. With even smaller classes, I talk to people on my “assigned color team” who I never really spoke to before and bond over the hardships that come with this pandemic. Another unexpected benefit of all of these changes is that the staff has been able to collaborate more closely with students, bringing us together as a community as they continue checking-in on us to ensure that we are all getting what we want and need.

I am appreciative of the teachers who work incredibly hard.

It was easy for a little while to bash everything that the school needed to modify for our safety this year, but instead of that, I am now so appreciative of the teachers who work incredibly hard to teach us each day. I also think of the students who continue to thrive and engage the community with their activities and great work. And lastly, I think of the dedicated staff that even through these difficult circumstances, still continue to try and give the senior class the year they deserve.

Covid-19 is still a hard, and painful reality to juggle, but I know that our community is doing the best that we can to work with what we have, and I think that is what is most important.

Informal headshot of white high school girl with brown hair wearing a pink sweater and standing by a window

Gabriela Class of '21

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