Pandemic offers a chance to appreciate ‘normal’ school

Ohr Chadash co-editor Noah Kleinlehrer enjoys a solo hike during the pandemic.

By Noah Kleinlehrer, Junior, MICDS

Back in 1918, when the Spanish Flu pandemic swept through the world, the latest technological innovations included the pop-up toaster and the enigma machine (an encryption device to protect high-level communications). Basic amenities included blankets, jackets and fire for one to keep warm during the harsh winters. 

Today, in the simplest of terms, those back in 1918 would be dumbfounded with what we today call our simplest conveniences. We see a watch that can receive texts and make calls, and a burger that, tastes like meat but is 100% plant based. Our simplest needs? Copious amounts of technology: iPhones, tablets, televisions, gaming consoles and wireless headphones. Let’s just say that our ancestors would be ashamed.

In the face of a pandemic, our predecessors wore masks with no objection, closed schools, businesses and other public locations to “flatten the curve.” Most stayed indoors enduring the age of no Netflix or modern technology for that matter. However, the isolation and seclusion of all participants proved to be beneficial, as it was over in just over a year.

Today, during the outbreak of COVID-19, we are provided the most exclusive luxuries and entertainment from the comfort of our couch. 

In a non-pandemic society, isn’t all we want a nice, relaxing place to lounge and snack until we gather our senses and face the reality that we have more productive items to attend to? Think about it, pre-COVID-19, all we ever wanted was a break. Now, thanks to the current pandemic, we have been given that opportunity with a large, red bow on top. 

Quarantine presented us with an opportunity to relax and embrace the comfort of our living rooms. For the first couple months, we did just that. But the old saying of “too much of a good thing” quickly made its presence known. At the conclusions of sports and reality shows, we were trapped with our families and young children with no way out. The desire to leave the house was too great to bear. During these months, even our nearest street or cross section was viewed as an unknown jungle too dangerous to be explored. But slowly, the human instinct of wonder and the perpetual compulsion to leave and explore flooded our minds. And ever so quickly, life became somewhat normal again.

From the perspective of a high school student in the midst of not only rigorous academics, but also the beginnings of the inevitable college search, most high schoolers just wanted to go back to school. How unanticipated! The same group of kids who say things like “I hate school” or “I could study for that test, but I’d rather watch Netflix,” now state “I just want to go back to school” or “I’m so tired of being at home.” 

It’s as if the COVID-19 pandemic taught something to our kids to that our education systems could not: the importance of an education. Whether they know it or not, teenagers now more than ever are naturally rejecting the societal norms placed upon them by the general public. For once, students would be excited for the school week. 

But while the days of freely roaming the halls of our schools and institutions may not be upon us yet, high school students must embrace this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The fuel that has been given to them, yearning to see their friends in the corridors and classrooms, must be channeled to their online and hybrid educations. 

Flash forward many years to the next pandemic: How will the current generations be viewed? Will we mirror our ancestors by prioritizing our health or will we be remembered as careless and destructive? The time we’re living in right now will determine the answer to that question.