Alternatives to classroom life amid shelter-in-place

Students find new ways to continue education

Closed+playground

Photo by thom masat on Unsplash

It is an unprecedented time in modern history. The whole world is humbly stilled by the formidable and irrepressible plague: COVID-19, more commonly known as “the coronavirus.”

Fortunately for us, California has been one of the foremost states to take proactive measures against the rapidly spreading disease. On April 7, 2020, Mount Diablo Unified School District declared that all schools within its jurisdiction, including Northgate High School, were officially cancelled for the remainder of the school year to preserve the health of the community. 

However, with the increasingly restrictive defenses against the coronavirus pandemic, Californians found their lives disrupted and rearranged, to the benefit of some and ruin of others. 

Besides having their academic careers short-circuited, current high schoolers face the unfortunate fact that spring sports teams and clubs have been unable to meet. But, while students have been bewildered and disappointed by the new regulations, they have not stopped pursuing their interests. Despite the unexpected obstacles, local students have found ways to creatively continue their school activities.

Here are just three examples of local students’ ingenuity.

Olivia Yoshii, the recently elected president of Northgate’s Key Club, has been creating projects to support the community. 

“Recently I’ve given the club members the opportunity to create flyers for local businesses,” said Yoshii. Many small companies worry about the negative effects COVID-19 will have on revenue. Restaurants that depend on sit-in customers will be hit especially hard as shelter-in-place is prolonged. 

“In this time, it is really important to support the businesses that truly need it,” Yoshii added. “Club members have the option “to choose whichever businesses they would like, and they can contact them, do a little research, and create a digital flyer to spread.”

 In Walnut Creek, restaurants like Rocco’s and Mooyah are now offering take-out and delivery services. As many businesses are shifting the way they operate, flyers will help disseminate these adaptations so others can support them and help the local economy. 

Students are also being introduced to methods for digital interaction in sports. College Park High School track athlete Alec Schaefer mentioned his involvement in a “Virtual Track Meet” hosted by athletic.net, the prominent service for school athletic events. 

     “On April 10, I was invited by athletic.net to participate as a tester for a ‘Virtual Track Meet’,” he stated. “Because of the current COVID-19 pandemic, athletic.net wanted to give high school track and field athletes the opportunity to compete with one another.” 

      Participants register for their events online and submit photographic or video proof of themselves competing. Competitors across the nation enter their times or distances and the results are pinned up on the website. This way anyone can see where they stand in comparison to their rivals. 

The system is still in a test phase, but it is a welcome outlet for those wanting a race. 

“Although it is not ideal for most student athletes,” Schaefer conceded, “it is very motivating and encouraging for me to see that I am able to compete amongst other high school athletes, and that there is a way to participate in this year’s track and field season.”

Reviving long-standing senior tradition is another way students are showing their ingenuity.

      At Northgate, senior graduation lawn signs were purchased for every student in the class of 2020, to be delivered to their homes by staff. 

     “It’s a pretty nice alternative to graduation,” said Richard Woo, a Northgate senior. “There’s not much else we can do for the end of senior year now.” 

It is touchingly important that the school does something to support the emerging senior class. Many of the class’ long-anticipated festivities, including Senior Ball, Graduation Ceremony, and Grad Nite, were unfortunately deemed unsafe amid the pandemic and therefore cancelled.

 “I am pretty sad senior year is going to end like this” said Woo. It’s a sentiment shared among seniors, parents and staff. 

However, most students agree that the signs were a nice gesture, and will be setting them up outside their homes. With time, these signs may stand for more than compensation for an unfortunate change of plans: a reminder of the moment when our generation was chiseled by a turning point in history.