OPINION: COVID-19’s effect on high school grads

Seniors graduating amid a pandemic had to learn to deal with huge changes



The high school class of 2020 has dealt with online graduations, Zoom classes and much more. How will they adapt to college life?


Senior year did not turn out as expected for high school students anywhere. On March 13, Gov. Jay Inslee ordered schools to shut down in-person classes and move to online learning. This was not a huge shock due to coronavirus concerns, and without schools closing, the virus could have been transmitted much faster.

For most seniors, this came as a heartbreak: no prom, no graduation and no closure on the year they worked so hard for. Graduations were moved online as well, dashing seniors’ dreams of walking across the stage with their best friends and reflecting on 12 years of hard work.

Amy Nguyen, freshman electrical engineering major, got her associate degree through the Running Start program while attending high school.

She said the coronavirus shutdown happened during her Running Start program spring break and moved all her classes online. She was taking a couple of writing classes and a math class. She said she felt as if she did not learn as much in her math class as she would have liked. Nguyen said she is excited for online classes through WSU, since she will be taking more specific classes to her major. Working with people as motivated as she is will help encourage her to do the best work she can.

The effect COVID-19 had on school activities was a major aspect of most students’ concerns.

Austyn Blais, freshman business administration and multimedia journalism double-major, said she was very frustrated about the ending of her high school senior year. On top of prom, graduation and her school musical being canceled, she had to take three Advanced Placement classes online, as well as the AP tests.

Blais said it was difficult to write her AP research paper because she had to be in constant communication with her adviser, which was difficult over email. Her graduation looked quite different as well because she was left out of it. Blais said the video was recorded beforehand at her school, and as she watched the video, she noticed she was left out entirely of the YouTube live stream that her school aired. She contacted the administration, and they promptly apologized and reuploaded the video with her included.

Most freshmen hope that the chaos of the spring semester will be behind them.

“[College] will feel like the end of high school,” Blais says. “It will be just online classes, then work. It should be more put together; the high school teachers were just thrown into it.”

This fall semester will be a new challenge. Some colleges have their campuses open for students while others have shifted to distance learning. Most classes will be online, with few exceptions for classes such as small group labs.

The shift from in-person classes to online last spring was very rocky. Hopefully, this new learning environment will be delivered successfully as teachers have had experience and have worked hard over the summer to adjust their courses.