Marianna Young

PANDEMIC PRISON Lining up to take their ‘mug shot’, juniors Shail Patel, Keira Trimolt and senior Ayush Arora express how Covid affected students academically and how motivation and mentality have been scarce amongst students since the pandemic. Statistics shown above are sourced from a student survey.

Caught by covid: Students’ reflect on the academic effects and struggles of living through a pandemic

Staring at lecturing teachers through computer screens, or using plastic dividers that interfere with the their view of the board has was the day-by-day reality for students only two years ago. Returning from this reality last year, teachers were understanding as students adjusted back to the “normal” school life. However, decreased grades and standardized test scores speculate whether students have fully gotten back on track to “normal.” There has been an observed disconnect that still exists now due to the covid.

“Teachers are now starting to ramp back up to the expectations that have always been upheld by

Munster, which was lenient based on the situation,” Ms. Chrisanne Terry, school counselor, said. “Last year was a huge correcting year as far as simply emphasizing attendance for students to come to school. I feel like this year is the first year that we’re truly getting back to normal.”

Mrs. Dana Bell, Algebra II teacher, has recognized a “covid  disconnect” in her classes this year. The majority of students currently in Algebra II took Algebra I during the covid year. With the unique circumstances of learning during covid, students have varying levels of familiarity with multiple concepts. Mrs. Bell explains that alongside the evident cheating that eLearning prompted students to resort to, the overarching conditions of the pandemic took a toll on students’ learning as well.

“I think eLearning was rough because it takes a certain type of student that’s really internally motivated and wants to know the material,” Mrs. Bell said. “Most kids were not that strongly, internally motivated when you are at home, not seeing you’re not seeing your friends, having family getting sick, and wearing a mask everywhere. People were just not in the right mindset to learn at times.”

This lack of internal motivation still seems to be present after two years post-covid. Keira Trimolt, junior, elaborates on the laziness that the pandemic has carved into her mentality. For this reason, the workload has taken a bigger toll on her this year, and she finds it more difficult to focus in class. 

“Before COVID-19, I had so much more energy to do school work,” Keira said. “Now the smallest amount of work stresses me out. My mentality has just changed a lot, and I do not think it will be the same as it was before COVID-19 again.

Along with Trimolt, based on a Crier conducted Google Form survey, 44.3% of MHS students out of 235 also feel as if their ability to focus in class has gotten more difficult since covid.

Students like Shail Patel, junior, feel that if covid did not happen, students would be performing better on assignments and tests. He believes that there is now an emphasis on grades and scores because people are still trying to build back up from covid. Due to this emphasis, it can seem like academic scores are overdefining a student’s value.

“Grades and test scores began to be a serious struggle for people when covid hit,” Patel said. “So, people are really focusing on improving them, but grades should not define who you are. There are many other factors that are so much more important.”

GPAs and standardized test scores have dipped in the past couple of years. To record the scores in all of the nation’s schools, students take NAEP, or The Nation’s Report Card, testing to gauge data on how those schools’ students are doing. Indiana’ scores have gone down slightly. The average score for students in Indiana in 2022 was 279. In comparison, in 2019, the score was 286. 

Munster schools have been trying to compensate for the loss of learning by adding in different programs and websites that they find useful to struggling students. To get back on track to expectation, administration has provided a number of things, including Tutor.com. This website allows students to receive help with any school work at any hour. They have also provided after school math tutoring in Algebra I, Algebra II,  and Geometry with Mrs. Katie Harris, Mrs. Bell, and Mrs. Christine Chidichimo.              

“I hate to say that we are so far behind,” Mrs. Bell said. “It’s not a race. As long as you learn, that’s all that matters. You can say that those kids should have learned those topics covid year, yet they are learning it now. So as long as they learn it, that’s the goal. But typically if a big portion of kids do not understand something, it does not make sense to move on. That has always been the case.”

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