Adapting to the Delta Variant

Photo+by+Dimitri+Karastelev+on+Unsplash

Photo by Dimitri Karastelev on Unsplash

Jayden Forniel, Social Media Editor

After an entire year of virtual learning, zoom fatigue, and absolute boredom, what became my new normality seems to be disappearing. Instead of ending my school days with the touch of a button, it now seems never-ending. Although the community is coming back alive, we cannot get too comfortable. Unfortunately, as we rise together as a community, so does the new and much more powerful Delta Variant. 

What is the Delta variant you may ask? The Delta variant is a separate strand of Covid-19 that first spread in India. It first gained prominence within the U.S during March 2021, then spread rapidly. With the Delta variant of Covid-19, your chances of catching the Delta variant are much higher due to the insanely contagious nature of it, and are going to experience severe symptoms like those of Covid-19. If you thought the original outburst of Covid-19 was terrible, you will be surprised at how potent and transmissible this variant can be. Now, if the Delta mutation sends everyone back into lockdown, can the community bear to recover this time around? That is a question we have yet to figure out. I know that it would affect me harshly both with my academic performance and my motivation in school altogether.

When the pandemic first hit, I, along with others felt depressed, shut out, and removed from the community. Convocations were not exciting anymore, songs were not sung, freshmen could only have so much attention over a virtual screen, and so many more factors. During the lockdown, academic performance fell way below our standard, as everything felt more like a job rather than school. The monotony of waking up every morning to a screen made me feel numb. Staring at my computer screens for 6 hours a day felt rather endless. 

Now back in school, I am surrounded by a motivating environment alongside my brothers. School does not feel like a job or a chore, it is beginning to feel like home. Virtual learning was not at all engaging to me. Although teachers did what they could over a screen to help their students, it did not feel like a real connection.  I felt without a sense of direction. The experience I was hearing about coming in as a freshman was not present. The Overnight, the most important experience freshman year was canceled. That event is known to be the start of your new journey to becoming a Benedict’s man. My class of ‘24 missed out on that, leaving us with a gap between us. With all of us first meeting over virtual, I felt lost. I was not alone. Other students’ grades dropped and did not reflect their true potential. While speaking with one of my fellow brothers, Carlos Faria, a UD1, I asked him if virtual classes had an effect on his academic performance. “Yes, very,” he said. “Not being in a classroom made it harder for me to focus and work to my usual standards.”

Now this feeling was not limited only to Carlos. This was something many of the members in the school felt. Focusing was extremely difficult, especially with all the possible distractions and temptations at home. During virtual learning, going on your phone, grabbing a snack during class, or just falling asleep did not seem like such a bad idea. Unlike at school, where phones are not permitted, and the environment is motivating, students are held accountable for their actions. The consequence did not seem as important as it does now in person.

I felt lost the majority of my freshman year because the environment at home was completely different from the experience at St. Benedict’s that I was supposed to be going through. As students get back into a more focused mindset appropriate for school, everyone is striving for academic excellence. It would be an extremely frightening and disappointing change if we go back into lockdown, just as everyone gets accustomed to in-person learning. I can’t help but wonder if the motivation and drive students have just regained once again disappears, will the brotherhood and sisterhood we are now learning to love disappear or ever be as strong? These are concerns that linger.

Our major project for this year is for everyone to help assist in the implementation of our new and enhanced community. Returning to being virtual would be absolutely detrimental to our goal of rebuilding our community. This is a setback St. Benedict’s cannot afford, not with the same outcome. 

 The only thing that can save us from this contagious variant is our hope and faith in the number of people that have been vaccinated. Non-vaccinated people are at serious risk because of how hard the Delta variant hits. It has been said on usatoday.com that “current vaccines have shown effectiveness in protecting against or at least minimizing the damage from a delta infection, and the vast majority of infections and hospitalizations are among the unvaccinated.” If the vaccinated citizens are experiencing less harmful effects of the Delta variant and are less prone to catching it, how much more convincing will it take for “anti-vaxxers” to take the shot? At this rate, these people getting vaccinated are the step in the right direction for maintaining our new normality. Not only does virtual learning drastically affect academic performance, it also has a huge impact on people’s mental health. 

We as a community are doing what we can to stay in person together, where we belong. This is our obligation to preserve our tradition of brotherhood and sisterhood, but we need to be prepared for the unwanted as well. We needed to find out more efficient ways to keep the community effective and together during virtual learning. It was a great effort last time, but it did not get the positive response from the students they had hoped for. We have everyone’s family in our hearts as we get through this saddening, unprecedented time together. Trust and believe we will strive now more than ever to keep this community alive.

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