COVID-19 impacts students’ daily routines


Sanjay Shrestha

Sanjay Shrestha (12) skates outside after school to unwind.

Every student has felt the impact of COVID-19 in their lives, whether it be dashed high hopes for a senior year or struggling to balance home and school lives under the same roof. Normally, in the fall of a new school year, VHHS students can expect to transition from late-night summer schedules to waking up and getting to their first-period class before the bell. Now, students can roll out of bed five minutes before class and log onto Zoom for their first online class. Schedules and daily routines have shifted dramatically.

Anna Kartson (11)  says she wakes up later in the day than her pre-pandemic school schedule.

“My schedule is definitely different because I don’t have activities after school. I don’t have a bus to catch. I have more free time in general,” Karston said. 

She also said she spends less time on her homework because she has more chances to get it done during the day with office hours and break periods. 

Sanjay Shrestha (12) commented on the downsides of online learning. He said that it was tough to focus while staring at a screen all day and that e-learning has impacted the quality of his education. 

“I just feel like I’m just doing a bunch of busywork. I’m not actually learning,” he said. 

He also said that online school has impacted his physical fitness and made him less active. Shrestha said he sits at his table all day, so he doesn’t get a chance to get up and move around. 

E-learning schedules are not only drastically different for students but more so for teachers, especially those who are also full-time parents with kids at home. Ms. Denise Caton, who teaches the Lifeguarding and Integrated P.E classes at Vernon Hills, has two younger sons who are also e-learning from home. Her husband, Mr. Ross Caton, is also a teacher at VHHS; he teaches A.P. Human Geography.

“With my classes [that I teach], there may be times where my boys are going to come up when I’m teaching class,” Ms. Caton said. “The most challenging thing is if they’re struggling, but both Mr. Caton and I are teaching; one of us is going to have to stop teaching and try to balance their needs while we’re teaching.”

Students and teachers alike have adapted to find their own ways to relieve the stress of e-learning and the new normal of social distancing. Shrestha has turned to skating and biking whenever he can and listens to music. For Ms. Caton, she uses working out as her outlet—waking up at dawn to run or completing workout classes in her at-home, makeshift gym. Karston also turns to exercise; she tries to get outside during lunch and office hours. She also intentionally separates her school work and personal life after she logs off of Zoom for the day.

“I hide all evidence of school in my closet [after school ends] so that my bedroom can be a space again and a place for me,” Karston said. 

A positive attitude can also lift spirits during this unprecedented time. Karston, a swimmer and lover of fall, chooses to remain optimistic about her circumstances. 

“Diving and the swim team are still having practices; that’s been a nice thing to think about and something to look forward to,” she said. “I like to remind myself that Halloween and things are still going to happen, even if they’re going to be different.”

For Shrestha, a senior, he said the current situation is unexpected, but he is maintaining hope for students to be able to go in-person for socially distanced learning second semester.