London, Ontario, CANADA – Millions of students around the world have had their lives uprooted by the covid-19 pandemic replacing classrooms with Zoom rooms. In Ontario, schools have taken an online and in-person hybrid approach, and either way, students are feeling the pressure.
Some schools have condensed a semester into two months, with only one subject a day.
Jenny Tran, 15, from London, Ontario, described in-person learning to be a lot of sitting and listening. Tran also thinks the courses are taught a lot faster, similar to summer school.
Amelia Baragar, age 14, also from London, said the materials are more basic, but harder to comprehend because of the speed and heavy workload. She said she finds it very difficult to focus on one subject for four hours a day.
Baragar compared it to when you’ve watched a TV show too many times and it starts to get boring.
“Everything is so rushed. My mark in math is the lowest it’s ever been,” said Livia Chiang, 14, of London.
Other schools have kept the usual pre-covid semester system and made part of the day online.
Hannah Lachance, 14, of Hamilton, Ontario described her days being two hours in-person and the rest online.
Many students expressed the difficulty of communicating with teachers and the time inefficiency.
“Personally, I hate learning online because I’m more of a hands-on learner. So it’s easier to have a teacher showing up,” said Weston Dawe, 14, of London. “So it’s less efficient because if you have a question it takes 10 minutes to answer.”
Pandemic stress is quantified with schoolwork, affecting many students’ mental health.
Hannah Lachance said assignments feel non-stop and she doesn’t have time for herself anymore.
Livia Chiang, a 14-year-old high school freshman, said she has been crying and depending on her parents a lot to cope.
A common obstacle experienced by students is the conflict of balancing a personal life and schoolwork.
Dawe struggled with keeping up with his schoolwork, he said, while missing days of class for surgery.
“I was born with a disease that killed off half my nerves. In math and science, the stress of my surgery on top of school was too much to handle,” said Dawe. “If you miss one day, it’s the equivalence of four days.”
Dawe expressed nervousness about how this year will impact his future, after failing math and English.
“Every time I fail, my stress just piles up and up and up until I fall off track. “
Despite all the negative impacts, some students say that the pandemic has taught them some lessons about friendship and growth.
“The pandemic has made me realize I have fewer friends than I realized. So, you have your close friends who you text with and your school friends who you wave to in the hallways. Now I just have a core friends group that’s a lot smaller than I thought it would be,” said Tran, a 15-year-old sophomore.
Some freshmen feel the pandemic has robbed aspects of their high school experience, particularly extra circulars and clubs.
Chiang said clubs at her school felt fluffy and meaningless since students couldn’t meet up in person and didn’t accomplish as much.
Other youth regretted not taking advantage of opportunities before the pandemic.
“Before covid, I created my own personal bubble, and closed myself up from others but now covid has thrust me into a bubble, and I’ve realized all those missed opportunities that are no longer a choice, ” said Lachance.
Chuying Huo is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.