At a time when they’d normally just now be heading home for the summer, Saratoga County schoolchildren shared their experiences of learning from home and imparted a little advice about how to get through the pandemic.
It’s been three months since the COVID-19 crisis flipped the lives of Americans upside down. Students who would normally at this time be wrapping up an academic year in their classrooms are doing so at home.
The Saratoga County Office of Emergency Services brought together a panel of four students from suburban county school districts to share their experiences during its weekly Facebook Live broadcast.
Looking back on when schools were shut down in March, Mia, who will be going into 10th grade at Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, said things were OK at first.
“At first it wasn’t that bad because I didn’t think it would last that long. I just thought it was going to be like a month,” said Mia.
Thomas, an eighth-grader at the Saratoga Springs City School District, felt the same way.
“My first thought was I didn’t think it was like that bad. I didn’t know why we were shutting down schools. But as it moved on and like there was more cases, I realized, that like, it was a good idea that we shut down for the rest of the year,” said Thomas.
The students said they had to adapt to a new way of doing their schoolwork at home and submitting assignments online.
Shenendehowa fourth-grader Cameron said the new way of doing things could get frustrating.
“It’s like, you’re mom’s like, is your homework done? And you’re like, no, it’s not, I never did it. And then you’re parents are like, what are you doing? And you get your phone taken away or whatever. And then you’re so mad because you can’t do anything with your friends, or you have to say to your friends, well, I got my new phone taken away or I can’t do this…”
Macy, who will be going into sixth grade at the Shenendehowa School District next year, said she was a little nervous about entering middle school.
“Kind of, because it’s probably not going to be like the same middle school,” said Macy.
Macy said she’s been practicing lacrosse with her friends over Zoom, but it’s not the same. All the students said what they miss most is seeing their friends.
Deanna Sargent, an elementary school social worker in the Stillwater Central School District, said her district has held Google Meets with students. Sargent said the district has also been using mindfulness exercises to help students cope with stress.
“Some kids truly strive on the structure, the routine. And it’s been really hard to keep that structure and routine. I know I’ve struggled with that as well,” said Sargent.
Sargent said just as students have been asked to “look” for the rainbow, they’ve also been asked to “be” a rainbow to others.
“Whether it’s helping your family set the table, whether it’s helping clean up, whether it’s helping fold the laundry and take it to your room. Those simple acts can help, even in the household, to keep things maybe a little calmer and move things in the right direction,” said Sargent.
Even summer vacation is going to look different. Some of the students said their families had to cancel trips.
Tenth-grader Mia shared some advice.
“I would say just power through it because it will get better. It just takes time. But it would get better in the end,” said Mia.
And despite the challenges, fourth-grader Cameron is making the most of things.
“I would say if you have any siblings, like, don’t…try to spend the time with them because if you have any older siblings they might just be moving on and they might not be in the same school as you. And you might not be with them and you can’t play with them,” said Cameron.