COVID-19 leaves lasting changes

Students and staff reflect on the long-term effects of COVID-19


Vivi Lopez-Stern

COVID CHANGES: Junior Madeline Travis wears a mask in the hallway. As COVID cases decline, the number of students wearing masks has greatly decreased. The AISD has remained mask-optional since March.

Vivi Lopez-Stern, Digital Staff

As masks come off once and for all, many people are finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. However, many students and teachers still find themselves dealing with the aftermath of COVID-19 and its lasting impacts in the classroom.

When COVID cases first began to surface, Junior Maya Graves recalls feeling unprepared for the pandemic’s impact.

“A couple months into COVID…it was like, oh, we’re not going back to school,” Graves said.

As the pandemic became a reality, Junior Ivan Inovejas recognized the roles teachers played in thinking of ways to help students carry out their normal responsibilities.

“A lot of them lowered expectations because they knew how difficult it was for all the students to adapt to being in the school environment again,” Inovejas said.

The pandemic had a large impact on the public education system, with new restrictions making it impossible for students to receive face-to-face interaction with one another.

“When we first returned to the classroom there was no vaccine, and we didn’t want to be in the same room as anyone,” Spanish teacher Amanda Walsh said. “It felt much more vulnerable.”

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic in March of 2020, and after a year of online and hybrid learning, students returned to campus at the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

“It was a shock to my system to open my door, and [see] the date written on my wall,” Walsh said. “the papers that were left there with students’ names on them from that very last day. How everything was just still from the last time we were all together, I actually cried because I missed being in my room and I missed being with the students, but the reality of how long we had been away from each other really really hit me hard at the beginning of that.”

Despite COVID cases having a downward trend, many have noticed there to be lasting impacts of the pandemic. With struggles remaining prevalent as a result of immense hardship, many are looking for solutions to combat these challenges.

“I think when we got to be present again something was very ignored about the needs that we still have,” Walsh said. “Yes academics are important, but this being your one life that you have here, how can you be okay and manage through stressful situations to balance your life.” 

Many find the toll COVID has taken on society to be hard to look past, raising questions over whether or not things will fully return to normal.

“I guess in the sense of being prepared, I have an air purifier in my house,” English teacher Jacqueline Gonzalez said. “Or I have a ton of masks when I travel. I do have hand sanitizer in my bag; I do have these things that make me feel a little bit more comfortable in those environments.”

After so much adversity occurring for such a long period of time, many people find themselves trying to live every moment to the fullest.

“Moving forward…it would be so important to take those chances and take the risks of things that might be pushing your comfort zone because you really just never know what might happen,” Gonzalez said.

Emerging from so many obstacles, students like Junior Isabel Cherukuri look for a silver lining in even the simplest of things, maintaining hope for a clear path after overcoming such a massive hurdle.

“I spend a lot more time with my grandparents than I did before,” Cherukuri said. “After losing my grandfather, I was like ‘I should have cherished more time with him than I did before.’ This is it, you know, you never know what’s going to happen next in life.”