Sixth form life with COVID is hard. Very hard. When COVID first hit, my school had to close early for a deep clean. Little did we know that would be the last day, almost a year ago now, that we would be in school full time. Who knew that it would only be hours later before Boris Johnson issued his “stay at home” message to the nation.
Closing the country had a particular impact on young people’s lives; schools, colleges and universities were all required to close. At that point I didn’t think much of it, I don’t think many people did
“We’ll be back in 2 weeks”
We were worried, but we had faith that we’d be back soon. Social media lit up that night – a combination of worry and anxiety along with a strange sort of excitement, along with the usual jokes and coping with things using humour…
I was in year 12 at the time and had just got results for three Cambridge technical exams I had sat a few months prior. Preparing and learning content for three more exams to be sat in June and July. Who knew they weren’t going to be sat!
It’s been hard, and stressful with the addition of government U-turns. I’ll be honest, I spent most of the first lockdown period on Netflix re-watching ‘The Big Bang Theory‘ and ‘Friends‘ while playing different games. Then, online lessons started, yep! Online lessons began in May.
“How would they work?” I thought…
I remember thinking… well, it is one hour a day, five days a week – not that bad right? We’d sit there doing coursework, messaging in the chat as we couldn’t un-mute ourselves. We’d deal with the awkward moments a teacher was muted, or someone else in the class said something that wasn’t meant to be heard.
On top of that, there were so many distractions while trying to work at home. Luckily, the academic year came to a close not long after, and we had the Summer break before going back in September to start year 13.
“For the greater good” I told myself
Not being able to do anything and being stuck at home – it sucked. I told myself it’s for the greater good, but more and more time at home made me more and more stressed.
“Have I done enough work?” “How much will I need to catch up on?” “What if I bring home COVID?”
My brain would bring up a thousand thoughts, each one adding in a bit more stress and worry. But then it came, the first day of school in god knows how long. The last time we were here we thought we’d be back on Monday after the deep clean, but now it’s more than six months later.
I met up with my friends on the first day. Hesitant to shake hands and get too close. We spoke about how long it was since we had seen each other. Going into the sixth form space we were eager to meet our new form tutors to embrace the new, final year of this educational journey. There was talk of the new safety procedures; wearing face masks, hand sanitizers, social distancing and more. It added a surreal element to what was meant to be such a normal experience of first day back at school.
The first lessons were okay, however the exam board hadn’t quite ruled out cancelling the exams that I and others had been studying. We had been preparing for them as well as for coursework moderations and other exams. Stress ate a few of us alive, dragging on day by day. I don’t know why it took them so long, but luckily the exam board cancelled all the exams from the previous summer so it was head on focus on the normal curriculum. Or so we thought…
In and out of school. ‘Survival of the fittest bubble’
Having to self isolate whenever someone tested positive meant we couldn’t get easy access to all the resources we needed. The school tried their hardest and most of the time they got us what we needed. But the basic point stands that learning at home is completely different to learning in a school.
So far, that’s my journey. It’s not over yet and I know there are going to be more challenges in the months ahead leading to the end of this educational year. We can just hope that it will be easier, but we need to remember we are sacrificing for a good cause. We are doing this to keep people alive and healthy.
Good luck to all sixth form students in achieving what you deserve, as well as finding ways to relax, and talking to somebody when it all gets too much.
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