Three years since COVID-19 means its time to look back


Anjali Kota

In some places of the world, COVID-19 remains a prevalent issue.

It’s been three years since COVID-19 prompted a shutdown across all of District 99’s schools. Before that, schools were on the edge of the pendulum, unsure if they would shut down or remain open. When the shutdown was announced, there was cheering in the hallways: “A two-week break,” we were told; “spring break came early,” we thought – but nothing could prepare us for the devastation that occurred next.

Three years ago signaled the start of 6.87 million deaths worldwide, countless variants, vaccines and vaccine recalls, toilet paper shortages, working and learning from home, PPE and mask shortages, stimulus checks, debates on mask usage and irreversible changes.

It’s important that we don’t forget all that was lost and all that was changed because it impacts us to this day, even in our very own school. COVID-19 may seem like it’s over, but that’s not a sign of complacency: instead, it’s a sign of renewed cautiousness.

The effects of COVID-19 first reached our schools in the 2019-2020 school year. It was at that time that we thought COVID-19 was only a temporary problem. In classes, that was the time of pre-recorded videos and virtual Google Meet check-ins.

In the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year, we all began the school year at home. From then on, there were around four changes throughout the school year, from the hybrid model based on last names, going fully remote, to the modified hybrid plan, to only freshmen going for the week. That school year was nothing short of hectic.

Then, last year the 2021-2022 schedule brought us even closer to normal. We were all masked until the mask ban was lifted statewide but remained required in D99 schools. At that point, masking had become a high point of contention at the school, until the mask ban was lifted district-wide on February 28.

It was finally in this year, the 2022-2023 school year, that we finally saw a return to normalcy with the majority of the school unmasked, and COVID-19 procedures were largely removed. With this removal of bans, it makes sense for people to believe that COVID-19 is well and truly over.

While some had the privilege of being relatively unaffected by the reaches of illness, there are many others that did not have the luxury of that same experience. At this point, the best thing anyone can do is remain cautious and safe by taking precautions such as washing hands and masking if necessary and celebrating the distance that we have put between us and the days of many COVID-19-related infections and deaths.