School closure causes new student-life dynamic

Ben Nielsen and Lexi Vander


Bailey Hetzel, Staff Writer

Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Saturday that all Florida schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite an effort to create the safest environment possible for students, seniors can’t help but feel upset that their “senior season” has ended so suddenly. 

“I was really devastated when I heard we weren’t going back because we might not get the chance to see many of our classmates or teachers again,” Kyle Johnson (12) said. 

Also contributing to the shock, traditional senior events such as Grad Bash, Prom and Senior Breakfast have been canceled. 

“I was looking forward to so many different special events [like] my graduation in May,” Sarah Paylor (12) said. “Fortunately there are different dates that may work for graduation but it will never be the same. I took the little moments for granted. As funny as it sounds, I miss walking to my classes at school.” 

And seniors aren’t the only ones to experience the outcome of closing schools. Online schooling has taken the traditional classroom’s place, creating a new dynamic in students’ households.  

Adapting to changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought, Abigail Goodman (11) has welcomed her 3-year-old nephew into home to help her sister out. 

“[My nephew] would usually go to daycare at Eau Gallie (High School) but he ends up at my house half the week,” Goodman said. “We have him on ‘ABCmouse’ [digital education program] and he does fine with that, but because he’s not at school he’s extremely rambunctious and it’s very distracting when I’m trying to work.”

Michael Villanueva (11) works on school assignments alongside his two brothers, one in fifth grade, and the other in ninth. To prevent fighting over their one extra computer, they chose to check out school laptops. Their mother, an elementary school music teacher, does the same so she is available for her students. 

“It’s been an adjustment but all three of us start working first thing in the morning and get it over with,” Villanueva said. “My younger brothers are both very self-sufficient, but every now and then they’ll ask me a question about a topic I’ve already learned or a class I’ve already taken. Other than some isolated questions, they work on their own.”

Keira Coleman (11) said she sees pros and cons of being an only child during a time of isolation. 

“On the one side, I don’t get another kid to hang out with or, on the flip side, get another kid to argue with,” Coleman said with a smile. “It’s completely and utterly lonely at times but on the other side, it’s nice to have distance from other kids. I can have my space and time to clear my head from drama that normally goes on in school or with other kids. I don’t have to hear about the new ‘it’ song on tiktok or [see] the latest post on Instagram.”

Coleman also mentiond the increase in school work that has come with the new adjustment of working online.

“My school work has been extreme,” Coleman said. “At first it was totally fine, but as teachers began to realize that their students were adjusted to the transition to online school, they started letting the school work rain down. One of my teachers is going crazy on load work and they’re definitely stressing their students out. Don’t get me wrong, though, my teachers are pretty flexible and always helpful. My workload is manageable, but harder than before.”

Mathew Rabel (12), on the other hand, has had enough distance learning.

“I really don’t enjoy online school at all,” he said. “There aren’t any final exams, so there really is no point in continuing work for seniors. Our whole senior year was ruined by the virus and now teachers want to continue assigning pointless busy work and tests every other day.”

Rabel isn’t the only senior upset with how the school year has gone.

“The fact that everything has been cancelled that’s fun for our class and now teachers are continuing to put an unnecessary  amount of work on us is just frustrating,” Maci Pekmezian (12) said. “The majority of us are going to college in four months and are just ready to be done with high school. Teachers should really be working to lighten the load for seniors since we won’t be having finals. This quarter is just a headache.”

Amid the chaos students have found ways of staying positive whether it’s Johnson, who spends time with his family, Paylor, who finds time to read or Villanueva, who gets ahead of school work. 

“Hopefully once this is all over, we can remove [it] as a big obstacle and remember it as one that made us grow as a school, community and nation,” Johnson said.

“Roar” staff writer Cooper Stein contributed to this report.