Sophomore reflects on a school year in lockdown


Tyler Letcher

Even as the world has made extreme progress towards on a return to normalcy over the course of this school year, the household of staff writer Tyler Letcher remains vigliant.

Looking back in history books can be shocking. Seeing disasters that you could never fathom occurring today, such as war, famine, or disease can be quite humbling, and a reminder to take reality and normalcy for granted. When one of these once-in-a-hundred-year events came around in the form of Covid-19, however, many people began to see this first-hand. While many people have returned to normalcy with the vaccine, myself and my family have still stayed vigilant to avoid many interactions with the outside world to avoid any risk of infection. From an outsider’s perspective, this may seem odd. To us, absolutely necessary.

I was home sick (not with Covid) on the day that the Covid lockdowns were announced in our schools. My little brother called home to announce the shutdown, and when my parents wouldn’t believe him, he had them check the school’s website to confirm this. What would begin as “oh, look at that! Two weeks of vacation for some virus that shouldn’t affect us!” went to “We should probably stock up on supplies and bunker down,” pretty quickly.

My family was always in a careful situation when it came to disease prevention. Wet Wipes and hand sanitizers were commonplace in the house, the car, even in nooks and crannies in our garage for easy access. The reason for all of this is that some of my family members are naturally at higher risk for infection, whether it’s a cold or Covid. So we had to take the situation deadly seriously.

Luckily, with my parents having worked from home for 2 decades at this point, we were set as far as that went. So, for the first couple of months of lockdown, we spent our time as many others did: baked bread, tried coffee recipes from TikTok, played Animal Crossing, all the normal stuff. Summer was, well, different than usual, however. While we wouldn’t go on vacation every year, we would go up and see family in the Poconos quite often, which we couldn’t do, and we couldn’t even see my mom’s parents 5 minutes away from us. I’ve gotta say, this was really one of the low points for us.

As summer turned to fall and school began, our parents made the obvious choice to pick the virtual option for myself and my siblings. For our family, at least, virtual school worked rather well, as we are fairly tech-savvy, and one of my parents has a background in virtual education. The lack of socialization was still a challenge, however, as even though many of our peers had hung out with each other over the summer break, we were still mostly sequestered to our home.

November brought changes in the North Penn School District, as students began to be able to come back to hybrid instruction, despite the steady rise in Covid cases. Our family, along with the majority of others, decided to stay home in the interest of safety. It did raise some conversation among us about the lack of socialization with us, and how we would make up for that in the future.

Ah, Christmastime. The time of year when, no matter what, our family always gets together, in one place or another, to celebrate what we feel is the most important time of year, right? Not this one! We, unsurprisingly, stayed home and celebrated with ourselves. We had the occasional video call here and there, but that was nothing compared to our normal traditions. But the one gift we got that was far better than any we had gotten in normal years was news of a mainstream vaccine on its way.

Between January and April, my dad, my mom, and even myself were able to get vaccinated. Cases have been on the downfall, and Pfizer and the FDA have authorized use of the vaccine for 12-15 year-olds. We’re still doing virtual school, but my siblings have had a couple of distanced, masked, outdoors meetups with friends in the past month or so, and, at the time of writing, we’ve seen our grandfather in the Poconos for the first time since the Pandemic began, as he, and all other adult members of my family, are vaccinated. I might even get to hang out with a friend or two in the coming weeks.

The feeling of liberation after almost a year and a half of near complete isolation is unmatched with any other. It’s freeing, and in the words of Joni Mitchell, it’s made us realize that we, “don’t know what [we’ve] got, Till’ it’s gone.” Vigilance is still needed, however, and we’re not out of the woods yet. Just because over half of Pennsylvania’s population has the vaccine doesn’t mean people can’t still get sick. Kids can’t get vaccinated, and many people who are vaccine skeptics and don’t want to get the shot need to be protected nevertheless.

While safety is still in the front seat, reality and normalcy are back at the wheel. However, if this experience has taught us anything, it’s that you should always have history on your dash to remind you of what to do in case one of these so-called “once-in-a-lifetime events” occurs. And, even as mask mandates begin to disappear left and right, and as even the CDC begins to roll back mask recommendations and distancing for people who have been vaccinated, our family will keep masking up for a bit longer.