Long Road Back From COVID Isolation for Students

Georgia Limbaugh, Freelance Writer

On March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic. In response, the USA began to shut down in order to stop the spread which included closing schools across the country. The lives of millions of students were flipped upside down as their usual lifestyle full of friends and activities was no longer possible under the law. As students hid themselves away from the transmission of Covid- 19 to guard against the physical effects of the disease, such as the cough, sore throat, and fever, they exposed themselves to a potentially more insidious malady that brought excess screen exposure, isolation, and loss of social development.

Students began to spend their entire day on their screen just to participate in school and communicate with friends. Seattle Prep freshman Millie Matthews mentioned that she had “way too much time which resulted in way too much screen time.”

Most experts recommend that people spend no more than two hours on their screen each day, followed by at least an hour of outdoor activity. Students all over the world failed to achieve both of these recommendations as Covid forced them inside and on their screens. The immediate effect of excessive screen time is eye strain. This can lead to regular short-term headaches; however, the long-term effects are much more detrimental. Excess screen time has strong negative effects including depression, anxiety, poor eating habits, and poor physical wellbeing.

Mandatory social distancing restricted real-life interactions with friends and extended family. The lack of physical social presence for students can result in feelings of isolation and social loss. “You could say I was on Facetime for a year straight,” freshmen Zooey Carlstedt said.

Friends resorted to long Zoom and Facetime calls, but it never made up for this lack of physical connection. Freshman Siena O’Meara mentioned that “Zoom meetings were a good way to connect under the circumstances, but I would much rather interact in person. They seemed more fun at the time because I was so used to not seeing anyone.”

According to an SPSP survey, many kids had a desire to grow their friend groups and foster a wider network of friends during the pandemic. Kids were starved for new connections and a sense of community that they no longer had easy access to. It is hard to make new friends through short interactions before class or during worktime when on Zoom. Families then stepped in to fill this void with new and creative ways to stimulate a sense of stronger community together. Many families implemented family game or movie nights. Some may say that Covid brought families together.

Also, subsequent to the pandemic, the general public had an increased cooperation with the Department of Public Health due to the fact that people were more aware of their health. “After Covid, I know how to take care of myself better mentally and physically,” said Matthews.

A University of Washington study conducted by Ashlie Chandler proves that car traffic volume in Seattle decreased by over 50% during the pandemic causing significant reductions in air pollution. A Seattle Times article written by Gene Balk showed that an interest in individual activities such as hiking, running, and walking sparked creating a surplus of activity in parks and residential areas. Although the Covid- 19 pandemic had many horrific effects on the lives of students and schools, students found a way to find virtue in the challenge presented in order to make it to where schools are now.