One Year Later

A look back at what Kansas students have faced in the year since COVID-19 was officially labeled a pandemic

One+Year+Later

Eleanor Warren, Staff Writer

Although COVID-19 was initially reported in December 2019, it was not until March 2020 that the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic. In fact, the first case in Johnson County wasn’t reported until March 7. Now, just over one year later, Johnson County has roughly 55, COVID-19 cases, and what originally started simply as a long Spring Break, has turned into seemingly endless quarantines, lock-downs and mask mandates.

LOCK-DOWNS

Most Blue Valley students remember Kansas’ very first lock-down in Spring 2020. Students were celebrating the cancellation of school and looking forward to an early start to Summer. Everyone did what little school work was assigned, then spent the week watching “Outer Banks” or going on family walks.

However, while students might have had an easy life, it wasn’t necessarily ideal. The class of 2020 missed graduation, senior prom and their very last quarter of high school. All they got in return were some yard signs and empathetic teachers.

Now in Spring 2021, a year after that first lock-down, students are feeling a little differently about COVID-19. No longer is it something that stops classes and provides an extra-long Spring Break; COVID-19 simply took out any fun aspects of high school such as assemblies, football games and school dances and replaced them with an ever-changing learning environment ill-suited to meet students needs.

Students never know whether learning will be in-person, online or hybrid, and the class of 2021 arguably has it even worse than the class of 2020. They have missed out on their entire senior year and countless senior seasons have been ruined — not to mention the class of 2020 at least got classes essentially canceled. Current seniors have been deprived of the fun part of senior year while still having to keep up with schoolwork and classes.

While lock-downs might have started out as a fun spring break back in 2020, after a year of constant stress and anxiety over COVID-19 related issues, most people are ready for a return to normal, even if that is a “new normal.” In fact, progress has been made towards this return with developments such as vaccine distribution, in-person learning, and the re-opening of many nursing homes around Kansas City.

MASKS

In March 2020, masks were not mandated in Kansas, and most people didn’t even have their own “fashionable” masks. Those who wore them generally stuck to the disposable ones, and although schools were shut down, people could still be seen at the grocery store without a mask.

This all changed in July when Kansas Governor Laura Kelly passed a mask mandate requiring Kansans to wear a face mask in public spaces. Flash-forward
to March 2021, and they’ve become a regular part of fashion.

A year ago, people might have been surprised to see face coverings in public, but now, they are both widely accepted and expected.

QUARANTINES

Last March, the words quarantine and pandemic weren’t regular parts of people’s vocabulary. The phrases “6-feet” and “social-distance” were only just beginning to see use, and most people hoped COVID-19 would be over by summer.

Unfortunately, quarantines and social distancing are still very necessary parts of people’s lives and have even become common. Quarantines have confined those in contact with COVID-19 to their homes and forced students to miss sports, school and other activities.

The world was informed that if they are exposed, their life must be placed on hold for two weeks. Many hope by next March these words will be distant memories of a time everyone wishes to forget.

VACCINES

While most of the COVID-19 situation has gotten worse in the past year, there is one aspect that has actually improved: High-risk populations are finally getting vaccinated, and things are starting to return to normal.

Those in nursing homes have been able to leave, see their family and go out for the first time in a year. Some teachers are starting to receive vaccinations, and Blue Valley has finally returned fully in-person after a year of online and hybrid learning.

Coronavirus testing has gotten easier, faster and more reliable. The COVID-19 situation seems to finally be turning around, and just in time for seniors to hopefully get one relatively normal quarter of their last year of high school.