COVID-19 and its effects on CK students

How COVID-19 has changed the lives of children and adolescents across the country


Mars Anderson

In order to ensure the safety of students during COVID-19, staff members Katherine Devnich and Helen Dean provide students with hand sanitizer as they enter the school.

by Mars Anderson, Reporter

In March of 2020, the world shut down. Schools closed, and everyone had to navigate a whole new online education system.

Schools across the country eventually began to reopen, with Central Kitsap (CK) returning to school late in the 2020-21 school year. Things were still far from normal, however; students learned to adapt to an all new hybrid system of learning, having only 2 days a week in-person.

This fall, CK finally returned to a fully in-person learning model while implementing some restrictions to ensure the safety of students.

Students have had a schooling experience unlike any other seen throughout history, and, understandably, there are many different emotions and experiences surrounding the situation. Senior Eleanor Hebard noted changes she observed in her friends and peers regarding mental health.

“The disconnect from everybody when you’re not seeing people face to face just has a really bad impact on your mental health,” Hebard said.

While on a Zoom meeting, Editor in Chief and Chief Purpose Officer of Highlights for Children, Christine Culley, discusses her observations regarding how COVID-19 has affected children and adolescents. (Mars Anderson)

These adverse effects on mental health are not only seen at Central Kitsap, but nationwide, throughout various age groups and backgrounds. Editor in Chief and Chief Purpose Officer at Highlights for Children, Christine Culley, reads notes from children across the country sharing their experiences, and, naturally, she is able to notice recurring patterns between the letters, specifically between different grievances kids had regarding COVID-19.

“They also wrote to us about disappointments: cancelled birthday parties, cancelled vacations, missing their grandparents, and missing their friends.” Culley said.

Along with a schoolwide and nationwide decline in mental health, many students saw their grades drop. Freshman Pluto Bircher mentioned their struggles with this.

Bircher said that before the school shut down, they were passing their classes and while online, they began failing classes. Luckily, now that school is back in-person full time, Bircher said their grades have been on the rise back to normal.

Situations may be improving for many students now that CK is back in-person full time, but that doesn’t discount the damage they felt during online school. Central Kitsap teacher David Tracewell sums up his perspective.

“We’re social beings, so we have to be together and that’s what we’ve lost, 15 months of just that isolation,” Tracewell said. “But I’m very proud of my students that they’re able to move forward and almost put that aside and not that they haven’t suffered, we all suffered, but we’ll be making the best of it just going forward.”

Tracewell does not seem to be the only one with a positive outlook moving forward. Many people acknowledged some positive effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on their lives, whether it be through valuable lessons learned, self discovery, or positive experiences accumulated during that time.

Bircher said they were able to really find themselves and discover more of their identity as a queer person while school was shutdown, which allowed them to grow as person for both themselves and others.

Although a majority of students said they prefer in-person school, a significant amount of students still preferred the online and hybrid education models over in-person school, citing different aspects in which they benefited from those models.

When asked what learning model they prefer, a majority of CKHS students considered in-person learning to be their favorite, as shown in this photo illustration of poll results. (Mars Anderson)

“Online was good for me because I like being able to organize myself,” Hebard said. “Hybrid was better [for me] because you still got to socialize, but you also still have that flexibility.”

Everyone had very different personal experiences with COVID-19, but one idea seemed to be universal: nothing is perfect.

Hebard said that although she was able to thrive within the hybrid learning model, she acknowledged that it was not a sustainable option, especially considering the fact that it was not as helpful for many others.

Tracewell talked about how he and other staff are still building back up from the effects of school shutdowns.

In accordance with COVID-19 regulations, student teacher Sydnie Chouery instructs her second period biology class. (Mars Anderson)

Tracewell said, “I think we’re still dealing with it and hopefully, the staff is finding positive ways to kind of make up for that loss from the last few months.”

The COVID-19 pandemic is a time like no other, and most people seem to agree that returning back to normal will be quite a process.