Brooke Robinson has never been a fan of high school. Five days out of the week she would have to go to a place she didn’t want to go, see people she didn’t want to see and do work she didn’t want to do. Her view on the whole thing, in general, was pessimistic. Then, the coronavirus happened, and the North Atlanta High School freshman was quickly thrust into an entirely different situation regarding school. The question is, would she have wanted this over what she had before?
This pandemic and virtual school model has certainly led to conflict within Robinson’s mind and the minds of many other North Atlanta High School students. They don’t like the daily struggles of school in person, yet they must now deal with feelings of emptiness and loneliness, as they are stuck at home every day. “Maintaining relationships and establishing new ones has been the hardest part. For instance, making new friends isn’t easy over virtual learning,” Robinson said.
The quarantine has not only led to feelings of isolation but also a lack of motivation when it comes to learning. The virtual school has given Robinson an easier time managing everything that she has to do but has also given room for her sense of purpose to be partially lost during the pandemic. “What has been hard is staying motivated to do my school work. It’s led me to procrastinate a lot more than I used to,” she said.
With motivation, discipline is being lost as well. Robinson can now get up later in the morning, do less to get ready for school, and have more time for herself. These things don’t seem all too bad, but they can create bad habits for when it comes time to return to a physical school. “Normally, I would get up and plan on what to wear, but now I just get up and log into my classes. I also have time to eat breakfast in the mornings now,” she said.
Not only has the ability to attend class from home created bad habits for before school but during classes as well. At home, she has the option to do things that she would have never been allowed to do in the classroom, with no repercussions at all. “Sometimes I can have my camera off and not pay attention without getting in trouble,” Robinson said. “I can also do things like eating in class, which I couldn’t have done in school.”
Even with the loss of motivation and discipline, Brooke continues to aspire to be an excellent student nonetheless. She still manages to complete her work on time and understand the topics that she covers in her classes when faced with the sense of disconnection that virtual school brings. Her parents see that in her grades. “I’m a straight-A student. And, they have no reason to worry for me because I don’t give them a reason to worry. I always do my work,” she said.
Robinson has shown over the pandemic that she can succeed in a virtual environment. She has also talked about her disliking of school in person. She may even prefer being in school online. However, COVID has definitely not had a positive effect on her life. It has not only stripped her of school but all the other things she enjoys doing with her free time. In her own mind, whether “Zoom School” has been positive or negative is still an open verdict. “Overall, it’s been good because it’s allowed there for there to be room for my mental health to increase, but instead it’s just been rapidly decreasing. So it’s both “yes,” and “no” at the same time.”
The effects of the coronavirus have led Robinson to see life differently from before since the ability to enjoy it is not always a guarantee. She takes whatever fulfillment she can find and can be able to appreciate it more, after seeing how easily it can be taken away. At this point, she only hopes things can go back to normal, even if that includes school. “I hope that the virus does not exist by the time I graduate from high school and that we can find a way to move past this time of our lives,” she said. “And when we get there, we can all set our priorities straight again,” she said.