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SMMS Student Reflects On New Normal In Pandemic School Days

Taylor Inman

Six months into the 2020-2021 school year, the first full school year requiring a number of pandemic-based adjustments, a middle school student in western Kentucky said she and her classmates are holding up and looking forward to the future. As part of a Back-to-School follow-up series, WKMS News caught up with Trinlee Anderson to learn more. 

Anderson, 13, said she has gone to school in-person for the majority of this year. She and other students are required to wear masks inside at all times, and she has all of her classes with the same group of students, compared to a pre-pandemic schedule in which she had different people in every class.

Anderson said she’s glad to be back in school for the last semester of the year because Non-Traditional Instruction (NTI) was never her favorite way to do schoolwork. She’s part of the “Explore” program, which is mostly online and allows Anderson to work at her own pace. She said her curriculum hasn’t changed due to the pandemic, only the parts of school that involved close contact with others.


“The only difference is that we can’t do a lot of hands-on stuff. We can, but it’s kind of hard with all the social distancing rules and not touching everything everyone else touches,” she said.

Anderson said she’s never felt like she was in danger of catching COVID-19 in school. She said only during the beginning of the school year were there issues with some students not wearing their masks correctly. But now, she said, students who aren’t following protocol receive a write-up. And she’s looking forward to warmer weather so students and teachers are able to go outside for “mask breaks” again, when she and her classmates are allowed to social distance and take off their masks.

“It was really nice because we could all talk and stuff, and we would normally spend like 30 minutes out there depending on if we had a lot of work to get done in the class or not,” she explained.

Both of Anderson’s parents, a teacher and a principal, have already gotten the COVID-19 vaccine. Kentucky’s vaccine rollout plan is currently in Phase 1B, when K-12 school personnel can be vaccinated. Anderson said she wants to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it is available for her. And with vaccines offering a potential return to normalcy, Anderson said she’s looking forward to not having to worry about being so careful.

“I’m looking forward to having this big burden off myself, and not having to worry about being extra safe and extra precautious with everything,” she said. “I do travel a lot with sports and everything, I feel like it’s an extra thing I should do for keeping myself and my family safe.” 

When Anderson is not in school, she spends most of her time practicing for her traveling fast-pitch softball team. She goes to Lebanon, Tennessee every weekend to practice with her team, preparing to start high school softball this month. She said she’s also looking toward playing college softball. 

There’s another major facet of the future Anderson said she’s looking toward: a return to more social normalcy. She said looking back on 2020 makes her grateful for the days when she won’t have to worry about keeping her distance from people.

“Being able to be around people and not having to worry about social distancing or making sure my mask is on correctly,” she said. “And being able to say, ‘Hi,’ without being clouded over with a mask.”  


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