Teen Years Robbed 

Virtual School was unlike anything I had ever experienced


Illustration by Cristian Franco

Staring at school through a screen, virtual school was uncharted territory.

I sat at a crumb-filled table. I could hear a crying baby in the background and the loud explosions coming from the living room television. I sighed, frustrated. 

I had to face the undeniable fact that this environment was now my classroom. And for so many others, it was their classroom, too. 

It was the last day of school before spring break and I was planning on going to the mall with my friends that weekend. A loud voice came on the intercom and announced that due to a virus outbreak known as the coronavirus (Covid-19) school would be closed for two weeks. 

I hate to admit it, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcement and was excited for an extra two weeks off of school. Little did I know that that day would be the last day I would step foot in TCHS for a whole year. 

The time came where students were required to take online classes until the end of the spring semester 2020. This was a huge turning point in my education because it became increasingly difficult to  adapt to online education. My grades started to suffer drastically. The first week of online classes I had to meet with my teacher virtually. It was novel, an experience that I wasn’t ready for. It was very difficult to concentrate at home.A classroom is an environment designed for learning-but a home is not. I left the first meeting with little to no information in my brain on what to do or how to even get started.

This became a pattern for all my class meetings. After my meetings I would just  stare at the screen of my blue ipad trying to figure out where to start. So this is my new reality. A virtual reality.  

I don’t blame the teachers at all for being a bit unorganized because all of this happened suddenly and without warning. I don’t think anyone was prepared for how to finish that semester. I remember a time when I was in class and my second period teacher forgot to update my grade and he said that he was sorry and that “we were in this together.” It was hard to feel togetherness behind a screen.

My grades were steady A’s and B’s before Covid emerged. In the beginning of online school I started getting F’s – which was very strange compared to my previous grades. 

I remember the day my mom found out. I was at my grandma’s house and I was working on an assignment on my IPad when I heard the bell that hung on the door jingle. I heard my mom greet my grandma, uncle and sisters. I put my IPad down gently on the wooden table and walked towards the living room to greet my mom. There she was: in her navy blue nurse scrubs with a pretty serious and disappointed look on her face. I felt a wave of guilt and worry when my eyes met hers. She was upset with my current grade of 30 in one of my classes. She explained to me that she was not angry with me, but more confused and worried. She told me that I would not be allowed to go out with friends until I caught up on my assignments and raised my grades. I had explained to her that I was not used to doing online school and that my atmosphere was very distracting being at home. 

After that she came up with the idea of using an extra room for me to work in so I wouldn’t be as distracted and it worked. This idea was great in the long run and it felt great to have some place where quietness filled the air. I was able to clear my head and concentrate more than I previously had. I finally had a setting where I could work on my assignments and focus. After that, I started taking online classes more seriously and managed my time better and created and maintained an online school routine. It was so effective that typically I would be done with class and assignments by 12 pm. This gave me time to enjoy the day compared to in person schooling. 

I had a love-hate relationship with online classes. On one hand I had way more free time and was able to stay at home and do school work from the comfort of my bed. On the other hand I not only had to do class work, but I also had to do several chores that my mother expected during the day before a certain time. I began to feel like I was missing out on a lot of High school experiences and felt isolated from my friends and classmates. My teen years have felt like they were stolen, or taken from me in some ways. I did not attend school events such as football games and homecoming and I began to drift away from a lot of my classmates. I would see homecoming photos of my previous classmates on social media and I felt like I should’ve been there having fun with them instead of being stuck at home staring at my ceiling wondering what I should do for the time being.

I finished the remainder of the semester of freshman year although it was difficult and hard to adjust to, but I was glad it was over.

As my sophomore year approached all students had the option to either stay and continue doing virtual classes or go back to in person classes. Although I think I would have enjoyed in person classes better than online classes I did not want to put my health or my loved ones’ health at risk. 

I decided not to return to in person classes and stay a virtual student. This decision greatly impacted my life because I had to complete another school year through an IPad. Once again, looking at a blue screen, and calling that “school.” Although I wanted to see my friends and classmates again, I was determined not to lose a loved one due to the virus. I believed that by not attending in person school I was greatly decreasing the chances of catching the virus and infecting others. 

Looking back now, typing from inside my school’s building, I believe that online school was very difficult and isolated me. But, I believe that I changed for the better throughout the year of online school. I had a lot of free time and with this free time I started trying new things. For example, I grew out my hair and started to skate more often. I started dancing and got a job. I accomplished many things and I feel like I owe it to online school in a way because without online classes I don’t think I would have had the same experiences and memories I have now. It was tough, but I became tougher.