Back-to-school uncertainty—These GL girls get real about their feelings

When in-person school abruptly ended way back in March due to coronavirus, I felt like everything that was "normal" in my life had suddenly been taken away, and was replaced by feelings of confusion, uncertainty and a strange sense of unknowingness when thinking about the future and what it would bring. When quarantine first started, no one would have thought that this pandemic would go on for so long—let alone affect the new upcoming school year so many months later.

This year, myself and my fellow students are facing a new reality—going back to school in the fall, which is something that has always been such a big yearly event, will inevitably be different due to social distancing guidelines and the very real threat of coronavirus, which has completely changed the structure of school as we know it without a solid plan for the future. Something that used to be so normal is now unfamiliar, and these new changes have brought along a lot of feelings from the students who are experiencing them firsthand. 

The whole feeling of uncertainty, which is commonly seen as a big repercussion of coronavirus, has definitely altered students' views of going back to school in this unprecedented time where there are constantly so many things changing:

"Normally, back-to-school was a chance for new beginnings with a whole new year in front of you. I think that this year it might be an altered-reality of school, which would mean no touching, no hugging your friends, staying apart... and I think that this new reality is scary because it's something that's uncomfortable for everyone and there are more things to worry about than before. Now it's more about life, health and safety, which we've never had to think about as a concern when approaching a new school year... it's a crazy thing for teenagers to have to think about when also thinking about what you want your first day of school outfit to be, who you're going to sit with at lunch, or all the schoolwork you still have to do. It's kind of a weird balancing act that's just going to make school different than what it used to be."  —Shani C., 17

"There’s definitely a lot of things that both my school and I are still uncertain about—our administration is not 100% sure of what the next school year will look like... I know safety is obviously a top priority, but some of the things I love most about my school are going to have to be changed because of [coronavirus]. If it’s deemed safe to go back to school, there’s always the possibility that another wave of the virus will come if a vaccine isn’t yet developed, and that definitely scares me... But of course, I really don’t know what’s going to happen because everything is so uncertain."  Molly L., 16 

Additionally, the complete lack of normalcy at this time also has a big effect on how students feel about the school year and all the things they will be missing out on due to coronavirus: 

"Because I'm going into my freshman year of high school, I wish things could be normal because then it would be easier to make new friends and have a normal high school experience. I'm missing out on having the same normal "first-ever day of high school" that everyone else got to have, which is kind of a big deal. It's mainly about just missing out on all the exciting things that come with a new year of school, especially as a freshman when everything is changing and new."  —Hayley G., 14

"It does feel a bit disappointing that school traditions and the “normal” things that come with going back to school may not be in the picture anymore, especially with the important social aspect of school, and also things like annual school trips for my grade that may not happen. It will also definitely feel strange to see these differences compared to other years and it may take some time to adjust to it."  —Lauren W,, 16

Despite the many changes and challenges that we are facing with coronavirus, there are still many important lessons being taken away from this new situation that we will carry with us in the long term:

"I feel like before coronavirus, I used to move through life really fast and always had a million things to do. Now that we've been staying at home for so long, its really helped me to slow down, spend more time with my family and reflect on what's actually important in life. Even though things are hard right now and we all want everything to go back to normal, I still think there are definitely silver linings in this situation and important lessons that I've learned that I think I'll carry with me into the new school year, whatever may happen."  Hannah L., 17

How do you feel about back-to-school this year? Tag us @girlslifemag on Instagram and Twitter to let us know. 

by Maya Camu | 7/13/2020