Covid Consequences

As a result of stay-at-home orders, students and faculty members face new challenges

Lily Jiang, Humza Quazi, and Greycen Ren


Lucas Botten ’20 figured he could spend his final semester of senior year enjoying the familiarity of Stevenson, “the Prom that never was,” and a heartfelt commitment day before the final hurrah of the Class of 2020 graduation ceremony. 

However, due to social distancing, limitations on group size, along with other warnings as a result of the current state of the novel COVID-19 pandemic, Stevenson faculty and staff have been working continuously around these new guidelines to prepare for three crucial events: Prom, Spring Fling, and Graduation.

Yet, the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak has left many students in their last semester disappointed as they try to make the best of their final days before graduation. 

“I’m really going to miss that feeling of community that wasn’t present back in freshman year,” Botten said. “The disruptions aren’t necessarily an unwelcome change, but the idea that that one Thursday might be my last day of high school doesn’t sit well with me.” Since then, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has canceled school for the rest of the 2020-2021 school year. 

Particularly for graduating seniors like Botten, these present emotions over what should have been a warm, celebratory bitter-sweet departure were acknowledged in a school-wide email sent by Superintendent Eric Twadell on Wednesday, April 1. 

“It is very important for us to be able to recognize and celebrate the hard work of our senior students, and to share that experience with their families and friends,” Twadell said. “While we continue to hold out hope that we will be able to have our graduation ceremony on Friday, May 22, we are also tentatively planning to hold Graduation on either, June 28 or July 26, and Prom to either June 20 or July 18.” 

While Twadell is hoping to keep these senior events, he also ensures that these decisions were based on new suggestions and regulations that have been released from the Illinois State Board of Education. Most importantly, the administration has consulted and taken into consideration the local health authorities as well as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines.

“As the parent of a high school senior, I know very well how important these events are for our students and our families,” Twadell said. “While we wish we could say for certain when the exact dates will be, we hope that you understand the very uncertain nature of schools and planning these days.”

Despite the tentative planning dates, the pandemic has nevertheless barred senior students from making those anticipated memories within Stevenson’s halls. Another graduating senior, Sarah Zhou ’20, reflects back on what memories from her high school career that she will hold most dear. 

“I’ll definitely miss walking throughout school and saying ‘Hi!’ in the hallways to all the amazing peers and teachers I’ve met in the past four years,” Zhou said.

Although seniors have been lamenting the potential cancelations and stolen last goodbyes, some, like Michelle Yu ’20, felt the loss but tried to make the best of the situation. Yu spent her spring break encouraging positivity and gratitude for being able to do enjoyable activities with her family, despite the current pandemic around the nation and the world. 

“The idea of possibly missing the traditions of the senior experience with all of my closest friends was definitely hard to take in at first—I couldn’t really accept it,” Yu said. “However, I’m now much more thankful that my family and friends are all safe during this time and have come to terms with the situation at hand by watching lots of movies, cooking together, and hanging out when we all are not in school or working.”


After having served as the Sophomore Class Board President for the past year, Jaden Varghese ’22 was confident in his campaign to be elected Junior Class Board President for next year. However, shortly after arriving at his class board meeting, his sponsors announced to him and his fellow members that SHS would be closed as a result of the growing risk of the coronavirus, which meant the postponement of this year’s elections. 

“In all honesty, I was quite discouraged by the postponement of our elections, especially with all the effort I put into my campaign,” said Varghese. “However, I feel disappointed for the sake of our members, who I have seen work diligently for their respective campaigns.”

Varghese is one of thousands of SHS students who have lost co-curricular activities in the face of the growing threat of the coronavirus. The temporary closure of the school means that clubs including National Honor Society, Student Council, Class Board, and many others are unable to meet in-person, thus making it more difficult to plan for their future projects. 

However, despite the setbacks that have ensued from the closure of the school, Varghese believes that technology could be used to hold online elections. Having a new executive board allows the club to continue working on projects for the future that require special attention.

“While on one hand elections will not affect anything currently since we cannot undertake any projects during quarantine, there are multiple benefits of having online elections,” said Varghese. “The only downside to these elections would be the lack of speeches, but Zoom is a viable solution to this issue.”

Similarly to Varghese, Tyler Sanchez ’20, who is an active member of National Honor Society, was disappointed after discovering that SHS would be closed until further notice. Not only were upcoming events cancelled, but members also can no longer participate in hands-on volunteer service.

“When school closed on that Thursday, it was devastating,” said Sanchez. “That next Friday was supposed to be the Blood Drive and Saturday was St. Baldrick’s, both of which had to be cancelled.”

However, even when faced with these recent complications, Sanchez believes upholding the pillars of National Honor Society is independent of whether or not the school is open. He and his fellow members have even begun using Facebook to showcase a “member of the day” (MOD) each day to celebrate those members who participate in service without seeking recognition. 

“I’ve seen so many people ask if anyone needs help with groceries, or even just checking in on friends, and that’s exactly what people should be doing,” Sanchez said. “This pandemic has brought out a lot of good in people and it always warms my heart when I know someone just genuinely wants to better the people around them.”

Director of Student Activities Ted Goergen has experienced new transitions as well. He believes that although the extent of his position has been altered, his current goal is to keep the students engaged in their co-curricular activities, especially through the use of technology.

“I think we have to shift our thinking about what sustainable engagement looks like for our staff,” said Goergen. “It not only helps to be able to communicate, but I think because we are all in our houses and unable to go anywhere, just being able to see other human beings is a positive use of this technology right now.”

Goergen remains hopeful that the school will be able to carry out the majority of the most important traditions of the school year such as Prom and Spring Fling and are considering using new means such as Zoom. In the meantime, his greatest piece of advice for students is to remember that they are not alone. 

“I think the most important thing is that for everyone to realize that we’re all in this together,” said Goergen. “I think it’s a unique situation that we’re in that does open up some opportunities for us in different ways.”


As Daniel Saltzman ’22 got on his bus after school on March 12, he saw everyone on his bus partying. Stevenson had just announced that e-learning would be taking place for the next month, with a no school day on March 13. Saltzman was excited for a break from school, imagining a more relaxing period to relieve the stress from school. 

“Everyone on my bus was shouting and so excited when they first saw the email,” Saltzman said. “People were ready to just play video games and relax while school was off.”

However, having school at home was very different from the academic lives students were used to. As a result, some students are having a difficult time adapting to the new learning environment. Saltzman feels as though e-learning is more difficult than traditional learning because being at home prevents him from utilizing the resources that the school campus provides. 

“It’s harder to get help from teachers if I don’t understand the material,” Saltzman said. “Obviously, it’s a lot harder to meet with teachers because we aren’t at school.”

Principal Troy Gobble recognizes that such problems exist in e-learning. Gobble agrees with Saltzman that e-learning creates some difficulties for students to learn, as he believes that having meaningful interaction is the best way to learn.

“We believe at Stevenson that the best instructional activity happens when kids are talking about the subject matter they are learning about,” Gobble said. “We want you in small groups talking about what you are learning in the classes.”

Social Studies teacher Keith Hannigan also acknowledges the limitations of e-learning. However, Hannigan believes that with time, the success of e-learning will improve, since everything so far has been done without much planning. 

“The reality is that we’re all just sort of making this up. No one anticipated this,” Hannigan said. “The school, the district, individual teachers, and teams are all trying to figure out the best way to do this. We experiment, we learn, we try different things, and we get better at it.”

In hopes of improving e-learning, over spring break, the administration sent out a student survey for e-learning feedback. After seeing the results of the survey, the administration decided to change periods to 30 minutes with 15 minute passing periods to help support students’ learning experiences. However, Saltzman feels that the new schedule doesn’t allow all students to work efficiently. 

“I know people that are struggling to keep up with school work,” Saltzman said. “Because we’re at home and we have shortened periods, you need to be a lot more self-motivated and diligent to succeed.”

During the e-learning period, Gobble recognizes that some students will be stressed over grades. In hopes of easing concerns about grades, the administration has made it clear that nothing that happens during e-learning can worsen students’ grades. Instead, the purpose of e-learning is to provide students with all the essential skills they need next year. 

Ultimately, the transition to online school is difficult for everyone. Teachers are also impacted by the transition from classrooms to virtual meetings. For Hannigan, online school is less rewarding and meaningful than being in a classroom with students. 

“Not being present with students is hard. The reason to do this job and why this job is so great is because you get to hang out with students,” Hannigan said. “Teaching into a box is just less. It’s not as interesting, it’s not as fun, and it’s not as meaningful. I miss my kids.”