COVID unraveled — how the pandemic still affects OHS today


(photo credit - pexels)

While she watches her teacher present online, a student takes notes at home. The COVID-19 pandemic caused all students to attend virtual classes throughout the final quarter of the 2019-20 school year — in the subsequent school year, Olentangy provided the option for students to commit to either a hybrid in-person model or full Committed Distance Learning.

March 12, 2020 — Ohio Governor Mike DeWine announces the state-wide shutdown of schools for at least a month; he cites the emergence in prominence and infamy of the COVID-19 pandemic. A month later, the prospect of school being reopened is postponed by DeWine until the next school year. Months follow, and Olentangy announces its dual introduction of a hybrid launch and Committed Distance Learning, otherwise known as CDL, for those who wish to stay home.

“At first, COVID-19 caused students to not have in-person social interactions, which made them socially isolated from their friends and peers,” junior Vedhantha Sathiyanarayanan said.

Fast forward two full school years, and things have changed to a significant degree — usage of masks is, although permitted, not as prevalent as it once was, and life has somewhat resumed to the status quo we all know and love.

“Much of the regulations have changed this school year. Masking is optional. Contact tracing is not being done. Reports to the health department are done weekly by number of COVID cases. Quarantine is not imposed on students who are considered if they are vaccinated unless they have COVID,” school nurse Jane McCray said.

Even despite all this, however, the effects of the pandemic still resonate with millions of teens worldwide — even here at OHS, in cultural and medical terms alike, COVID-19 still impacts us to this day.

Health-wise, the virus’ stigma has reduced to a notable degree — compared to the start of the pandemic, teens are more well-versed about the spread of germs and how it may affect peers around them.

“I think COVID has had both positive and negative implications. Students and staff are more cognizant of spreading germs at school. We are more comfortable using a mask when cases are high. Our disinfecting techniques are improved and our touchless water fountains are long overdue,” McCray said.

Many students recognize the awareness that the pandemic brought to their own lives.

“COVID-19 made me value the people around me, healthcare workers and technology more than ever before,” freshman Sri Narayanam said.

On the other hand, teens across the country have experienced higher rates of depression and anxiety due to the pandemic — a study published by JAMA Pediatrics shows global adolescent depression has increased around 26% since the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“From a negative point of view, students seem to have developed more anxiety and depression since COVID became an issue. Additionally, more behavioral issues were seen in young children. We continue to see an increase in anxiety and depression in teens. This is not just an Olentangy issue. This is being seen all over the country,” McCray said.

Despite that, the global pandemic has changed perspectives across the community on social interaction, medical awareness and mental health — COVID-19 has made a significant dent from here at OHS, to teens worldwide.

“The pandemic has changed my perspective of the world around me. I used to take the simple things in life for granted, like going to school and having active teachers. Although the pandemic was a tragedy, it taught me and many teens around the world to respect the world around us,” Narayanam said.