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Students have different responses to social distancing--By Polly Fitton

Just over a month ago, Broncos waved goodbye to their regular routines and replaced them with the slower, homebody-style life of social distancing. Some students kept up with their daily studies while others found themselves binging Netflix for hours on end. Both a student’s mindset and home environment can affect his or her social distancing lifestyle, but one thing counts for almost everyone at home in these times: how you cope and react to changes as they occur can reveal your true colors.

Junior Sydney Tetens found both positives and negatives in the newly established social distancing restrictions.

“It restricts the things I like to do, like going to swim practice or hanging out with my friends,” Tetens said. “But I think despite all the negativity surrounding the COVID-19… I think the world needed a pause. We were too busy and caught up with our lives that we almost forgot the importance of family and taking a break, and I think that, in a way, it’s a blessing.”

In this time of international quiet, however, the disappointment from all age groups rings out loud and clear. Many students face test cancellations, seniors of both high school and university may be going without a graduation ceremony, and some families have lost money paying for vacations that they now cannot take.

Senior Zaida Fuentes expressed disappointment at missing out on not only senior activities, but regular school days as well.

“It overall separated me from going to the place where I have social interactions and created memories with my best friends,” Fuentes said.

As for me, the stress of school far outweighed any disappointment of cancellations. As a senior, I am facing the reality of being the first class of RB High not to have a graduation ceremony, not to mention senior night, prom and the Disneyland trip. However, the longer that I remain in the comfort of my home, I find that I increasingly prefer this new, relaxing lifestyle to any of these activities, and I am profoundly grateful for my loving family for making this such an easy transition.

Of course, not everyone has a happy home environment, and social distancing is proving to be a psychological struggle for many teens at home.

One anonymous student of RB High has reported the struggles of a life without the daily routine of school.

“I work 24 hours a week,” they said. “Masks and gloves every moment, restricting breathing… I don’t get to see the one person who makes me happy because he is at higher risk for complications than I am. My future [is] hanging on the balance of daily changing travel restrictions as the country in which I’m going to college gets put on lockdown.”

The separation of loved ones, daily hard work and uncertainty of the future are only some of the struggles that our community is facing at this very moment. Family tensions that can consist of emotional, verbal and physical abuse may now prove inescapable for some teens with no school to go to and no friends to see.

Those with more spare time may find themselves increasing screen time; Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have all seemed more active since people have been keeping indoors.

Senior Taylor Perrigo has noticed a change in people’s connections since the school shutdown.

“Social media has been a way kinder place,” Perrigo said. “There are little things going around that have you put up a picture of yourself and explain how we need to bring up people around us and tag 5-10 other people to encourage them to keep the chain going.”

Along with social media connections, the popularity of Zoom and Facetime has skyrocketed as people try to remain in contact with their friends.

Even without the internet, the shared struggle of the public seems to have brought empathy to many people. As I walk around my neighborhood, I find that almost everyone who I see trying to get some exercise is willing to cross the street to keep a safe distance as well as call a friendly greeting or give a wave.

“Even with people going on walks, more people are starting to say hi to you when you walk by instead of looking at their phones,” Perrigo said. “A lot more people are reaching out to their friends or at least acquaintances just to keep in touch and see how they’re doing with the virus. Not being able to be around everyone all the time has really made people more connected even though we’re apart.”

Although social distancing has brought many hardships, it is important to take advantage of the internet and social media to stay connected with the people that mean the most to us. Despite its appalling downsides such as cyberbullying, addiction, and effects on body image expectations, social media can bring people closer when used with the right intentions. Take the time off to explore some new hobbies, take care of your health as best you can and show the people you love that they are important to you.

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