2021-2022 School Year By Sarah Kaiser

As we all know, the Covid-19 pandemic is officially dying down. Despite the delta variant's troublesome behavior and institutions beginning to close down once more, schools are ready to invite students to a fully in-person school year. For many, that might sound exciting and long overdue, but for others, an anxious environment awaits them.

From complete quarantine to little in-person school to full in-person classes, the transitions have not been smooth so-to-speak. Many people chose to opt-out of in-person school at the end of the 2020-2021 school year while others may have been forced to go. Either way, social pressures after being alone for months is not easy on any teenager. Parents aren’t always understanding, and peers may not be so comforting either. So what exactly can we do to ease people throughout this rapid transition?

One of the most unrecognized forms of peer pressure is making others feel bad about not attending certain events. For example, when trying to guilt someone into attending school by texting them things they are missing out on, one does not recognize how the other side of the screen might see it. Students need to collectively understand the societal pressures that feel new and different after the pandemic, allowing the needed space to be given to people who truly need some time to process. On the other hand, letting a friend isolate themselves may not be the healthiest course of action, but understanding the difference between pushing and guilting could make an impact on many socially and emotionally anxious individuals.

Unfortunately, the time lost due to the pandemic for students will never be gained back. Social experiences were missed, and unwelcoming school pressure felt heavier than normal. Students might look forward to learning better inside the classroom, but others may fear speaking in front of their peers as a result of doing so alone for the past year. Some might suggest that it is better to be forced to be in-person to classes, but the overwhelming pressure of school makes almost all students anxious. This year, it is utmost important for teachers to understand the pressures that students face, both stemming from the pandemic and school stress over grades and home reports. Ultimately, students should communicate with their teachers about how they are feeling and whether or not they are overwhelmed. Even one student speaking out to the teacher can better the entire class, and so no one should feel as though they cannot make the change.

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