2021: Back to the future

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Rewind to one year ago. No graduation or grad parties. No kicking off the end of the year with a pool day. The school year simply ended by hitting the submit button for one last Canvas assignment and shutting off the laptop. One year later, Etowah students hustle to prepare for exams and year-end events. Excitement fills the hallways as pool days and beach trips are only a few days away. COVID-19 has significantly impacted students’ lives in the past year, but as the 2020-2021 school year comes to a close, Towne Lake is finally seeing a return to normal. 

As of March 13, 2020, Etowah students spent the rest of the 2019-2020 school year at home from their computers. Prom, graduation, and any end-of-the-year event was cancelled or postponed. This period of lockdowns and quarantining felt never-ending.

“Last year was really terrible and super challenging. The experience itself was very interesting, as I’ve never been through anything like it, but I’m glad it’s over,” Logan Banner, sophomore, said. 

The 2020-2021 school year started out rocky with school closures, a hybrid schedule, and numerous quarantines, but there was still light at the end of the horizon. As of the end of March, all Americans 16 and older became eligible to receive a vaccine. By May 10, vaccine sites opened up to those ages 12 through 15, as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over 45% of American adults have been fully vaccinated, allowing Etowah to have a more normal end to the year. 

“The beginning of the year started out really rough, especially with COVID-19, but as more people are getting vaccinated, this year has become a lot more normal,” Morgan Dance, freshman, said. 

However, digital learning students have not experienced the same sense of normalcy that in-person students have. Many feel that the changes experienced through online learning have made this year even worse than last. 

“[Digital learning] has honestly been absolutely horrible. While everyone got to go back to living life, I had to be left behind. While my year may seem like it has not changed very much, in many ways it has. The school changed virtual education to APEX, and I feel as if my education has suffered because of the poor quality of the program. I had no other option like many people who went to the school in person, so I had to suffer with it,” Makayla Shaffer, junior, said. 

After a long year of uncertainty and unforeseen changes, Etowah can finally end the year on a positive, more normal note. By continuing to follow CDC guidelines, students can help propel the transition towards everyday life as it used to be.