Students in quarantine learning deserve more support

Gnally Boukar, Copy Editor

An Important Message From Bellevue West can ruin your entire day, but what can ruin your entire week? Principal Kevin Rohlfs’ personalized Quarantine Notification emails.  

Bellevue West counselor Melissa Minahan said that the health department decides if students should be quarantined following a COVID-19 exposure. A chart determines high or low risk based on proximity and whether masks were on. 

I was quarantined from Oct. 14 to Oct. 26. I missed a combination of over 10 summative assignments and quizzes. According to Rohlfs, I was labeled high risk exposure after a student I ate lunch with tested positive for COVID-19. In the email Rohlfs instructed me to contact my teachers and notify them of my upcoming absence. He also informed me that teachers “will provide you with all of your work so you can keep up with your [my] classes.”

Minahan said when students are first quarantined all teachers are emailed a time frame of the student’s absence. From there, it is solely the responsibility of the student to check their email and Schoology to stay current in classes. However, during my absence I fell behind. I was behind when I returned to school and I’m still suffering in a few of my classes. 

Other students also have struggled with staying up-to-date while quarantined. Senior Julia Catton missed two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19. In an email, she described how she struggled to keep up with class despite resources being available to her. 

“I tried looking at class notes and videos of the lessons and attempted the assignments, but none of it was really clicking for me,” Catton said. “Once I found out I had COVID, all my motivation for everything just went down the drain, so keeping up with school work while I’m trying to keep myself healthy and not go bananas was a challenge.”

When Catton returned to school she said she was behind, especially in math. She said she struggled to learn the content on her own, especially in the “comfort of her own home.”

“Since I either didn’t know what to do for assignments or how to do it, when I got back to school, I had no work done and I was basically a whole week behind everyone else,” Catton said.

Catton said  that if teachers organized Schoology more efficiently, regardless of in-person or remote, content might be easier to follow. She also said she felt more motivated to work on homework when teachers showed support and shared words of encouragement. However, Catton is not alone in feeling lack of motivation at home. 

“I didn’t have a ton of motivation,” sophomore Kendall Garner said. “It was harder to focus.”

Garner, just like me and Catton, struggled to keep up while at home. Not only was she dealing with the weight of testing positive, but she couldn’t keep up with her classes. She said she emailed her teachers to no avail. 

Students need support during COVID-19. We have a schedule. A safe routine. When we are ripped out of our bubble we need positive words of encouragement and patience as we adapt to our newfound circumstances. While we are quarantined we need a clear agenda and resources we can use to follow up. We need, most importantly, the option to zoom into a lecture. We miss human interaction and structure and even a zoom call can recreate a semblance of pre-coronavirus life. 

It is clear to me that Bellevue West High School is not prioritizing students’ mental health or academic success. We are behind and exhausted–not only from the constant fear of school closing, having to quarantine, and the recurring reminder of the state of the country–but now we also have to worry about returning to school two weeks behind our classmates. 

It’s #strongertogether, unless you are at home. Because in that case, you are the child left behind.

This article has been edited to remove identifying information.