Student Voice: Being a student in this situation is more complicated than many realize
Anxiety, uncertainty, fear. These words were at the top of my classmates’ minds during our first check-in after spring break. Being a student in this situation is more complicated than many realize. I, for one, feel like a sitting duck, relying on everybody else for information and direction; my teachers, family, and state legislators are my lifeline. Everyone is stressed and worried, but I think it comes down on us, as students, in a very different way. We are pushed into a whole new rhythm, one many of us have never experienced. Learning online, being stuck at home, still taking care of ourselves and our families, it puts a lot of responsibility on us. Don’t get me wrong, responsibility is never a bad thing. But when it’s thrust upon you, out of nowhere, it’s hard to keep it together under the pressure.
In New Mexico, I think we’ve been able to acknowledge and deal with the crisis effectively - for the most part. On March 11, the state of New Mexico declared a state of emergency. Starting March 16, all public and state funded charter schools closed, and were meant to open again April 10. Starting that week, the state has provided free lunches at schools and hospitals. By declaring a state of emergency, the governor was also able to get funding for abuse hotlines and supplies for homeless shelters to help disadvantaged families. My school, Amy Biehl Charter High School, provided hot lunches for the first week of the lockdown, which was a scheduled school week. Since then, our teachers have been emailing us and our parents about different resources we can take advantage of if need be. The first priority in New Mexico, from what I’ve seen, is feeding and taking care of our families, both physically and mentally.
In terms of education, not much has changed for Amy Biehl. We have been partially digital since I've been a freshman. We all have school-issued laptops and the state is providing access to in-home wifi for students who need it. All of our classwork was already online, distributed through Google Classroom. The only real change we’ve experienced is meeting virtually. Instead of our usual 100-minute classes, we will now have a 25-minute Zoom call with each of our classes three times a week. Overall, I’m not sure how we will handle this change. The lack of face-to-face interaction with our teachers and mentors will definitely be a struggle for many students since we are so used to our teachers being hands-on with their lessons. To combat this, at least partially, our school is offering both teacher and social worker office hours for the majority of the afternoon, when we don’t have classes.
Since this new schedule just started on April 13, the situation will develop in its own time. All of us are still trying to get the hang of virtual education and I’m sure there will be a lot of trial and error on both ends of our Zoom calls. For all the teachers out there, you are not alone in the struggle. Your students are adjusting the best they can and we will all get the hang of this together. We all have to step up to our new responsibilities and support each other in whatever way we can. Whether it’s just by staying home, checking up on friends and teachers, or donating to an organization that has been helping the community, we can all pitch in to help out others, especially our essential workers and educators.
by Emese Nagy, CPICS Student Board Member