Looking Back: Two years since the first COVID-19 case


Delaney O'Sullivan

Posters that were hung during the transition into hybrid learning last year are still hanging in the hallways, a reminder of how much has happened since. SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 testing is available to students at South per request. The testing consent form is available for parents and students on the Plainfield school district website.

Delaney O'Sullivan, Editor in Chief

The first coronavirus case was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) China Country Office as a pneumonia case in Dec. 2019. The first case of COVID-19 outside of China was reported in Thailand in Jan. 2020.

In March of 2020, the organization characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic. Shortly after, many states including Illinois shut down all travel, dining, and group activities. Schools temporarily shut down before going remote.

Now, two years later, life at Plainfield South feels different to students and teachers alike.

“In 2019, I had just heard about COVID in class, and I remember my teacher talking about how it was not that big of a deal and it wasn’t going to affect that many people. But in 2021, it is a big deal,” said senior Gabby Beach.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker suspended in person learning in March 2020, and classes were not able to resume in person until the following year. Science teacher Samantha Scanlan said many teachers did not have a Google Classroom or know how to operate Zoom in order to communicate with students.

“I think we learned a lot in terms of being able to adapt quickly,” Scanlan said.

Scanlan recounted telling others that large gatherings such as prom would not happen in 2020 due to COVID-19.

“Many of us left South that March and didn’t come back, in some cases, until almost the following January,” she said.

A portion of South students feel as though they have missed many quintessential high school experiences during the pandemic. The class of 2020 did not have a traditional graduation ceremony or senior prom and the following school year there was no homecoming dance or spirit week. Prom was hosted at the school, only available to 2021 seniors.

“I feel like I lost a whole year,” said senior Shea Borger.

Students and teachers at South started the 2021 school year online. The typical school schedule went through many changes. School days were cut in half and students were expected to join Zoom meetings for each of their respective classes.

“I don’t think any of us thought it would become what it is today,” Scanlan said.

When switching to remote learning in 2020, many students did not have access to a personal computer. In order to ensure students have the resources they need to do their best in school, the district moved to a one to one system, providing each student with a personal laptop.

“We went from having a few computer labs to being a one-to-one district in terms of technology,” Scanlan said.

Now, students are back in person for full days, using technology in class more, and wearing masks in the building. Protocol for contact tracing is in place and students have access to free, weekly SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 testing per request.

Sophomore Tessa Sottosanto partook in the half days offered during the second semester of the 2020 school year, spending her first semester of high school online. Although Sottosanto participated in the half days offered last year during the second semester, she says it’s been a challenge getting back to normal.

“I couldn’t go to school,” she said. “I just got out of the rhythm of doing stuff so it took a while to get back into that rhythm.”

Experts are warning many schools across the globe that more lockdowns may ensue if new variants spread while others are left wondering what they can do to prevent another quarantine.
Scanlan says analyzing the risk of activities or choices is one tactic to keep everyone safe.

“Always think about the personal risk of whatever you’re doing that it is going to have on you and your family,” she said.

According to the CDC, students can protect themselves and others by wearing face masks and maintaining social distance.