As COVID-19 vaccines become more readily accessible and distributed, it seems as though the world is progressing toward a sense of normalcy. With the pandemic nearing an end, thousands of students worldwide are returning to their school buildings — some for the very first time since last March. For many, a change in an otherwise mundane routine consisting of staring at a computer screen produces an atmosphere of excitement. For others, who have grown to favor online learning, this change provides a string of questions and very few answers: How will I manage to wear a mask for the entire duration of the school day? Will I have enough energy to get through the school day? How will I adjust to in-person testing and navigating a populated building? In this week’s blog, Lion’s Heart offers a survival guide for returning to the school building and in-person school in general.
First things first, acknowledge that things will be different. Humans are prone to reject change. We favor the familiar, the known, the comfortable. Returning to school, however, will be anything but that. It will consist of masks, social distancing, and signs urging you to remember that the pandemic is not yet over. By accepting this new reality, we can ensure that the pandemic continues to subside and that no one is put in unnecessary danger. The good news: nothing is the same and most likely, no one will be the same. If before the pandemic you did not have the best sleep schedule or the most efficient morning routine, take this time to re-invent your lifestyle and figure out what works for you. This may be as small as making your bed each morning or as large as changing to a plant-based diet. If you want to do it, this is the time to do so. For some of you, this is even the first time you will be meeting your teachers in-person and so deciding how you want to approach the remainder of the school year is key to finishing off strong. Even writing down your goals is a good reminder of what’s to come!
“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be. Put your future in good hands—your own.”—Mark Victor Hansen
Now onto the real tips… the dreaded masks. The itchy, sometimes suffocating fabric swatches that must cover our mouth and nose at all times. The good part is that most teachers and faculty members understand the realities of wearing a mask and are accommodating if you need to step outside to take a “mask break.” Instead of spending the duration of class trying to focus on Algebra while fidgeting with your mask, simply ask the teacher if you can step outside for a drink of water, recuperate, and then return ready to learn. As far as social distancing, just remember to remain aware of the distance between you and others at all times.
It is certainly an adjustment to go from wearing pajamas while you stare at Zoom to going into the school building for six hours at a time. The most noticeable difference is the energy required to perform both tasks. Whereas it takes little to none to wake up and hop on a Zoom, the energy required to go to school and spend a large portion of your day sitting still in a classroom is much more substantial. The biggest trick here is to take it slow and do not strain yourself. If you are one for extravagant morning routines and early mornings, perhaps simplify it for the first few days as you become adjusted. Instead of going for a run before school, give yourself that extra thirty minutes to sleep — after a long day of school, you will be glad you did. Even throughout the school day, make sure to take breaks. If you have free periods, spend half the time doing school work and the other half catching up with your friends — remember this is not a marathon, this is a period of adjustment. Even between classes, you can always go outside to catch a breath of fresh air. The last bit of advice in this section is to manage your extracurriculars and classwork according to the amount of energy you have. If you find that you no longer have the energy to run three clubs and play a sport, that is perfectly normal! Cut it down to the most important activities while prioritizing your wellbeing — you cannot be at your best if you do not feel at your best!
So really the survival guide boils down to a few sentences: the pandemic was an unprecedented time in American history. It was a period of adjustment for teachers and students alike. Returning to in-person school will require patience, time, and understanding. Let it. As one chapter closes, another must open… only this time, the pen is in your hand. What story will you write?
Until next time, this is Sydney signing off Lion’s Heart style! Thank you for reading!