Giant City School Back in Session-How is Covid Affecting Middle Schoolers and Staff?


Mika Carter

       Since the beginning of 2020, it has been a bumpy road for all of society. One of the major events this year that has brought numerous changes in our everyday human lives is Covid-19. This worldwide pandemic led to different states/countries being on lockdown, quarantined, and curfews were set the whole month of March and April. Places of public gatherings like the mall, movies, and restaurants, etc., were closed. Grocery stores were mostly the only thing open to the public. During this time, many schools across America were preparing to close for spring break but closed weeks early due to the virus spreading. Here in Carbondale, Illinois, at Carbondale Community Highschool,  classes were already out of session for spring break but due to the stay-at-home order, spring break was extended into summer break but not only for Carbondale Highschool but for the middle schools in Carbondale as well.

       For the time being, both the high school and middle school students have been learning through daily zoom calls with their teachers and turning in assignments on google classroom since August. Carbondale Highschool was expected to go back to school in September or October but no changes have been made but one of the middle schools that follow the highschool’s calendar have officially stopped doing zoom and are ready to get back to the basics of kids learning in an actual classroom, away from their electronics come October 13th. That middle school being Giant City. Giant City School is grades K-8 and has their own daycare center. Students and staff have less than a week to get themselves mentally and physically prepared for what the rest of the school year has in store for them since everyone is required to wear face masks and be 6ft apart from one another.

        Ever since Covid-19, a lot has changed school wise and everything is a learning process. With middle schoolers being so young, they either have challenges adapting to new things or none at all. Giant City Giants are going to be expecting major differences throughout the remainder of the school year since the last time they all saw each other physically, back in March–their feelings are up in the air. Amir Payton, a 5th grader at Giant City School said, “It’s hard not being in school because I can’t get extra help with teachers I need help with, but I can work at my own pace and comfort zone when I’m not around my teacher and classmates.” Amir feels that there are pros and cons of going back to school, along with his older brother, Emon Payton, a 7th grader at Giant City School. “I’m afraid that two of my favorite teachers might get sick and the school would have to shut down again, but I hope that won’t happen because I am ready to see my friends that I haven’t seen in a long time,” said Emon.

Amir's teacher viewing over his work, standing feet apart.
Amir’s teacher viewing over his work, standing feet apart.

       Not only is adjusting to the new expectations going to be effective on the students but staff members at Giant City School are learning and trying to cope with the school’s changes as well. Ms.Edwina, Office Secretary and school nurse at Giant City School have a lot on her plate for the remainder of this school year since students and staff have to be much more cautious now. “I’m nervous because now I’m like the first contact that a child would make other than their teacher if they feel sick, they have to come to me in the front office, so I have goggles, I have a face shield, I have gloves, I have alcohol, I have disinfecting wipes, um…I have the industrial mask. So, it’s like I feel like I have all these things so that I don’t get sick and then get my–my, children sick, and so, I’m kinda nervous…I have to check the staff temperature because they have children. They children go to other schools, they work at the school, they’re going to be working with the kids so, right now it’s kind of–it’s kind of like everything is up in the air, it’s really like a challenging time right now because as soon as one kid gets sick, we gotta shut the whole school down and sanitize the school.”

Ms. Edwina in the school's office working.
Ms. Edwina working in the school’s office.

       Giant City School’s principal and faculty are working towards keeping children occupied, feeling safe, and continuing to keep up with schoolwork as best as possible. They know that none of this is easy, but it helps to stay focused on what is possible in order to reinforce a sense of control and to reassure children that they are okay, and that the situation will get better.