The semester ends, but not the stress from Covid

Counselors note increase in students reporting challenges


Megaphone file photo

Director of counseling Mrs. Gretchen Watko ’00 works in her office in Kelly Hall.

Madeline Liter, Reporter

As a result of Covid, school counselors have noticed an increased level of stress in students. Covid has also had an effect on the nurse, athletics department and teachers.

Covid has placed a lot of strain on students, school counselor Mrs. Gretchen Watko ‘00 said, “There are some major positives that have come this year from being back in person and having less restrictions in place. I think that has helped on a mental health standpoint.” Watko said that having students back in school assists counselors in being more aware of the mental health challenges, and they are able to provide support for students.

Covid has impacted teachers’ mental health as well, Watko said, “I think there has been a lot of stress. I don’t know exactly what it was like for teachers, but I can imagine what it was like for them and that stress didn’t just end because we are back in school full time. There’s new added stressors with helping students adjust back to the structured learning environment.’’

In addition to teachers, other members of staff have had the purposes and structures of their jobs completely shifted and had to adapt.

Covid has had an effect on school nurse Mrs. Marianne Vogt ‘83. Describing how her job was like in the midst of Covid, Vogt said, “I basically spent most of my day calling back parents of students who were absent, because I had to go through a system with every student who had called in sick to see if they had symptoms. It took hours out of my day.”

Looking on the positive effects of Covid, Vogt said that last year cases of the flu, strep throat and many other illnesses were non-existent in the school, and that shows that masks are effective. She said she thinks that keeping the mask mandate is important to cut down on case numbers.

In regards to her tips for Covid management, Vogt said, “I am really careful about my mask when I’m around other people or if I’m in a large group. Hand sanitizer, which Covid also helped me be more aware of, is also helpful.”

Outside of the classroom, Athletics Director  Mr. Rick Streiff said that athletics mirrors the school’s precautions and applies those standards to indoor sports. Protocol requires masks to be worn by athletes and the crowd at all times aside from eating or drinking.

If an athlete tests positive for Covid, the athletics department requires them to go through a system similar to the concussion protocol. Streiff said, “A player has so many days where, as they come back, it’s a build up of activity until  they are completely released to play.”

Streiff said his goals for next year are to continue on the path that the school is on, keep people healthy and get back to a new normal.

For students regarding their college potential athletic careers, Streiff said, “Improvements have been made in the recruiting process since last year. Now colleges are able to come in to the school and meet students.” Streiff said that this is a huge leap in the right direction.

The way that students learn about colleges has changed as well. Watko said, “One good thing that has come out of all of this is the plethora of information that is available to students. Colleges have shifted gears and they have so many videos and resources available online for students to get information and experience (the school) in a virtual format. So that’s a great thing. Kids are able to resume going on college visits, because a lot of schools are allowing students to come onto their campus, whereas last year they weren’t really.”

The recruiting process for college can be stressful and affect mental health. Watko said she recently read Fr. Emmanuel’s homily that he shared on Thanksgiving about a trick to do if you’re stressed. Watko said that a line that stood out to her was, “‘A reminder from Ruby Bayan is to look at your hand, count on your fiver fingers your blessings, pause, take a deep breath and remember that we all have the ability to cope.’”