It has officially been one year since everyone in the U.S. was forced to remain in their homes due to the spreading of the coronavirus. It was a year of masks, isolation, social change and unemployment. An entire year of everyone’s lives was consumed by COVID-19, an entire year where some didn’t see family members, an entire year where people didn’t leave their house and an entire year while we waited for the vaccine to arrive.

In the beginning, students were immediately subject to online or Zoom schooling to finish the end of their spring semester. “Initially, I was really excited for a break from school and to go on lockdown,” said sophomore Katie Janko. “However, I soon realized I missed spending time with my friends.”

Then, summer came. Over the summer, students reconnected with their friends outdoors and wearing masks, making sure to maintain a healthy status. It was a major adjustment, but many hoped that by the end of the summer, everything would return to normal.

Some students decided to remain on Zoom for the 2020-2021 school year, meaning that they will have participated in virtual classes for almost three semesters. “I’ve been at Pace since Pre-first, and it’s my second home,” said sophomore Sheza Merchant, who has been Zooming since the pandemic began. “I know that when I do return to Pace I’ll be sure to appreciate the person-to-person interactions more than ever because now I realize how much I miss it.” Merchant, who has familiarized herself quite well with Zoom, is grateful for the online option and the teachers’ flexibility.

During the pandemic, students, teachers, parents and others picked up new hobbies and found unique ways to pass the time. People were able to spend more time with their family, pets and significant others while being trapped in their homes. “I spent time playing ping pong with my dad and my brother,” said freshman David Fu. “We also played chess. It allowed me to spend more time with my family.”

Some took long car rides, others learned to solve a Rubik’s Cube or complete massive puzzles and some binged new shows. Regardless of how you spent your months in quarantine, it gave us time to reflect on those who we hold close to us and to develop a greater appreciation for our loved ones.

Now, many worry that “normal” is no longer an option. Masks and fears of the virus have dramatically reshaped people’s view of maintaining strong mental and physical health and not only caring for oneself, but also for others. Empathy was a major theme of the quarantine and understanding that the true heroes were valiantly fighting on the front lines, saving lives from COVID-19. We must now consider how our new “normal” will appear.

The virus has continued to plague the globe; however, with the arrival of the vaccine, many are optimistic that by the year’s end, we as a society will have made significant progress in restoring our previous standards of living.

Photo: The Knightly News staff celebrates the senior staffers in their final Zoom class together on April 30, 2020. Photo: Lee Wilson

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