SASD members reflect on Covid school year

After dealing with new obstacles in school caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, such as mental health issues or transitioning to virtual school, many SASD members reflect on their different experiences. Many also hope to return to normalcy for the 2021-2022 school year.


Arrowhead photo by Claudia Elwell Creating a safe classroom…Focusing on school work, sophomores Jessie (left) and Jenny (right) Lam work on their school assignments during free time in art teacher Sabrina Pistoria’s class on May 21. Pistoria said that to maintain a safe learning environment that she focuses on sanitization and making sure that everyone wears their masks correctly.

As the 2020-2021 school year comes to an end, SASD members are reflecting on the highs and lows of this school year, which has been defined by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many students expressed concerns about returning to in-person school after school’s shutdown in March of 2020 due to Covid safety risks.
Freshman Ben Christopher and senior Ella Kreagle said that they were concerned to come back to school because of the increasing Covid cases.
“In the beginning of the year I struggled with figuring out how I was going to make my senior year memorable when it seemed like any day we could get shut down,” Kreagle said.
According to Indian Valley Middle School Vice Principal and middle and elementary school Souderton Area Online Academy Principal Dr. Catherine Heller, “Our administration team spent their entire summer brainstorming and planning how we could educate our students with the same level of rigor while keeping them safe.”
Art teacher Sabrina Pistoria said she was “hesitant” about teaching in-person school, but was “pleasantly surprised” with how Souderton schools were able to consistently stay in-person.
To create a safe classroom environment, Pistoria focused on sanitizing classroom materials.
As an incoming freshman, Naomi Thompson said it was a “very stressful” transition from doing online school in the spring of 2020 to going back to in-person school.
“It was a strange transition back to the classroom after having so much time off,” Kreagle said. “It almost felt like starting high school over again with all new rules and changes.”
As the school year continued, many students’ mental health was negatively impacted by Covid restrictions.
According to Pistoria, SAOA students and in-person students reached out to her because they were struggling with mental health.
SAOA eighth grader Emma Horos said that doing online school and not seeing her friends and other people was “depressing.”
Horos said that she felt “unmotivated” while doing online school because she “felt too comfortable” at home rather than in a school environment.
According to Horos, she prefers in-person school because it “holds my attention and is more entertaining because of the hands-on activities.”
Horos and Kreagle said that they wished that the school offered and made mental health resources more clearly available.
Unexpected quarantining also made staying on track with school work more difficult for some students.
According to Christopher, when he got Covid in April, he had a high fever with bad symptoms and wasn’t well enough to join online classes.
Christopher said that he ended up falling “really far behind” in many of his classes, and that it was difficult to catch up on the school work he missed.
Thompson said that she felt “isolated” while quarantined and that she “missed social interaction” while doing online school.
According to Pistoria, it was also challenging trying to make sure that her students wore their masks correctly, resulting in a lot of “mask policing.”
Christopher said that it was “frustrating” to be around people who didn’t take Covid seriously at school, such as people who didn’t wear their masks correctly.
Kreagal said that even through the craziness of this past year, she has been able to “learn so much about myself,” and was “ still able to make good memories with my friends and Souderton.”
According to Heller, “everything we used to do in the past had to be re-thought, revamped and often times re-invented.”
“I observed our teachers step up to an insurmountable challenge and rise to it with grace,” Heller said.
“I took going to school in-person for granted,” Thompson said, “and I realized how lucky we are as a district to be back at school in-person.”
Thompson says that she misses the “awkward hallway smiles” and “hopes for normalcy” in the near future.
According to Heller, SASD has been “closely following the CDC guidelines to ensure that health and safety is at the forefront of educating our students.”
“We will continue to do that going into the school year next year, so stay tuned,” Heller said.