In the last few weeks, the United States has been overrun by COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. In a matter of days, everything had changed, from the status of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament to the ability to dine-in at restaurants. This sudden change has been felt by BCHS as the school has transitioned to e-learning, and there are many ways the BCHS community has been turned upside down due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Spring break is a highlight of any school year for many students. Whether it be traveling to somewhere warm for a week or staying at home, the break from the hassle of school is always highly anticipated. In 2020, spring break will be very different for Trojans due to the highly contagious and unpredictable nature of COVID-19.
On March 23, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued an order for everyone conducting “non-essential business” to stay home for two weeks. The 10-day break, scheduled from March 27 through April 5, will still be a break from e-learning, but the travel that usually accompanies spring break for many students will be non-existent due to restrictions surrounding the pandemic.
Senior Nate Schlabach had plans to go on a cruise for spring break. “I canceled my spring break plans because my mom was very concerned with how fast the coronavirus was spreading. Instead of going on a cruise I’m not expecting to do anything because as of right now, I’m assuming I will still be quarantined at my house.”
Some vacationers made their trips before the pandemic swept the nation. University of Kentucky freshman and 2019 BCHS graduate Janie Gleaves went to Santa Rosa, Florida earlier in the month. Gleaves said, “I was not very concerned at all at the beginning of the week. It was definitely at the back of my mind, but I didn’t really think twice when we went out to dinner our first night there. However, by the end of the week, all the restaurants and beaches were closed, school had moved online for the rest of the year and my parents had me fly home two days early because the concern had grown so immensely in just a few days.”
At a local, national and international level, the sports world has been absolutely rattled by the coronavirus. The NBA, NHL, XFL, MLB, MLS and many other leagues around the world have all suspended their seasons indefinitely.
The NCAA canceled the 2020 men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, ending the seasons of local teams expected to qualify for the tournament such as Indiana and Butler and cancelling tournament games scheduled to take place in Indianapolis.
The IHSAA also canceled the 2020 basketball tournaments, and although the IHSAA has not announced the fate of spring sports, many spring athletes are anticipating a similar outcome.
Senior tennis player Heidi Copple said, “I’ve worked so hard the past two years, in and off season, for tennis. I’m beyond disappointed I may never have the chance to play varsity or even have my senior season in general.”
Senior softball player Abigail Reed said, “I wanted the opportunity to be a leader and have a senior night, and now I’m missing out on a big part of my high school experience.”
As for if and when spring sports will resume, their fate is still up in the air. Principal Mr. Joe Hansen said, “When it comes to sports the IHSAA has not made any final decision to cancel spring athletic contests. They desire to support an abbreviated season should we return to school in May.”
On March 12, Bishop Chatard High School announced that all classes would be moved off-campus for e-learning, and the state of Indiana has mandated that all classes remain off-campus until at least May 1. While BCHS has had e-learning days in the past, it has never been for an extended period of time.
One change is that many classes are now meeting over video or audio chat. Junior Adam Sellmer enjoyed his first Google Meet video conference, saying it felt like he “was back in Algebra class.”
Students like junior Owen Cuniffe are taking things one day at a time with their new approach to online class. Cuniffe said, “Some days the work is easy, and I get it done before noon. Other days the work takes a long time and most of my day is spent on school work.”
The academic changes extend beyond everyday class. Upcoming SAT testing dates have been canceled, and the College Board announced a new, at-home format for AP testing. Students still have questions about how second semester final exams and AP testing will work outside the classroom.
Junior Isaiah Prophet said, “I’m not really sure how we can have an AP Computer Science final online. It will be hard to do the class without face-to-face help from Ms. Smith.”
Working from home can bring new distractions for students, however, teachers are always available to help. Vice Principal of Academics Mrs. Ann Taylor said, “It does not feel good to get behind. A daily set of habits will help you to get things done. Your BC teachers want you to succeed. We care. Help them out by doing your part.”
Students are not the only ones affected by the class changes due to the coronavirus. BCHS teachers are all trying their best to adapt their classes to an e-learning format. For some teachers, the transition from in-person instruction to online has been very difficult.
Music teacher Mr. Mark Duray said, “When a music ensemble explores, rehearses, and performs, it is dependent on the functionality of the whole ensemble to accomplish its goal and the subsequent separation element e-learning presents is quite a huge obstacle to overcome.” As of right now, Mr. Duray’s students are practicing their music individually at home.
For other classes, while the transition has been easier, it has not been without its struggles. Math and computer science teacher Ms. Marie-Therese Smith said, “I am having to seek out tools to make learning math online as understandable and engaging as possible,” she said, “I am also having to find ways to best communicate with students who have questions. Right now I am using email and dipping my toes into Google Meet.”
But like many others, Ms. Smith also prefers in-person instruction to e-learning. “Admittedly, e-learning is not my thing,” she explained, “I love seeing them helping each other. And I love watching students learn.”
In a world dominated by a highly contagious pandemic, it can be hard for many people to maintain a social life, especially with on-campus schooling out of the picture. Due to social distancing recommendations, students are spending extended amounts of time at home with their family members.
Sophomore Grace Adams said, “I think I’m handling it okay. It’s difficult because being stuck with my family makes me really miss my friends.”
Senior McKayla Messer said, “Being stuck in my home has given me the chance to have fun with my mom.” Messer has also helped her mother and next-door neighbor “prepare for the worst.” And while family members are important to spend time with, especially during such uncertain times, students should also communicate with friends online.
Junior Ethan Pratt said, “I try to text my close friends every day and occasionally we FaceTime or call each other.” Being at home also allows for more time to explore hobbies. During his free time, Pratt has done his e-learning, watched movies and read.
Sophomore Alex Gantz has been doing a lot of baking with all of her free time. When asked how her friends and her have been handling the situation, she said, “We have been a little upset, but persevering. FaceTiming helps a lot!”
Class of 2020
Perhaps the group of students most affected by the coronavirus pandemic is the Seniors in the BCHS Class of 2020. Senior year mainstays such as senior assassin, prom and graduation have all been put on halt due to the outbreak.
Senior Charlie Jacoba called the timing of the outbreak in conjunction with his final semester of high school “almost depressing.” Jacoba said, “Times with your closest friends that you would call family are fleeting. We can’t be around each other and interact with one another. There are so many opportunities that have been and will be missed and memories that won’t have the possibility to be made anymore.”
Messer said, “I think my class of 2020 can try to think of the positive, there may not be a whole lot of positive moments right now, but even if we are not together, we will all still be graduating and moving on to do bigger and better things. And with the capability to be with each other soon enough.”
And while it is possible that the seniors have taken their final in-person classes at BCHS, the memories will never be forgotten. Science teacher Mr. Jeff Bach said, “Many traditions are quickly formed and even more quickly forgotten. Spirits of love, kindness, caring, permeate through time, carrying the sounds that your class has made and reverberating through the halls of BCHS long after you’re gone.”
What comes next?
With the ever-changing nature of the information and protocol surrounding the coronavirus, it can be difficult to keep track of the record. As of now, all Indiana schools are closed through May 1, and that date could be pushed further back if the virus continues to spread. Mr. Hansen said, “Our leadership team continues to discuss different scenarios concerning all events like prom, the spring musical, honors night and graduation. Many of our decisions will be based on when we return to school. With things changing from day to day it is impossible to put a date on those events.”