High school seniors and their families are finding their footing after testing, school and other aspects of student life grinded to a halt while institutions take measures to combat the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus.
The College Board, which administers standardized tests nationwide, has canceled SAT makeup tests and regular test dates through May, with the June date status being assessed.
One of those students affected is Alexis Lajiness, a 17-year-old senior at West Valley High School.
“I wasn’t able to go into my SAT on March 14, because that’s when it first started and they were only accepting a few people and I guess I didn’t make it in time,” she said. “So I guess they didn’t want me going in there and overfilling the classrooms.”
Lajiness said she was called and told about not being able to attend her scheduled test date.
“I mean, I got out of a test, but it’s a pretty important test for my future, so I was a little bummed,” she said, “but I know eventually things will go back to normal and I’ll be able to take it.”
She does get to take an Advanced Placement biology test, which The College Board will still be conducting. She’ll just be taking it at home instead.
The virus outbreak has affected Lajiness’ life in other ways also. Her workplace had to close, so she said she’s spending a lot of quality time with family.
Lilliana Scott, a 17-year-old Hutchison High School senior, was counting on taking the WorkKeys Assessment, a workplace aptitude assessment, while still in school. She said she hasn’t been able to take the test because not enough students signed up at Hutchison and that it now looks like nobody will be able to sign up.
Scott is in the welding program at Hutchison and wants to enter the workforce after high school, but not being able to take the assessment has had an impact on that goal.
“It affects my plan because I was planning on joining Universal Welding after high school, and as far as I was told, the WorkKeys are somewhat important because it shows how well you read work papers and important things that would have to do with construction, welding, that kind of stuff,” she said, “and it would show my employers how well I would do in that kind of field.”
Scott also expressed concerns about being able to graduate.
Part of her plan is to join a union, but she said one of the requirements is to have a high school diploma.
The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development has stated that high school seniors should be able to graduate on time since they will be receiving instruction via distance delivery.
“I’m honestly not sure how the distance delivery learning thing goes, but if it’s going to help me finish my classes, then I’m all about it,” Scott said.
In the meantime, graduation is still on people’s minds.
Kathleen Swarner is concerned her son will miss out on a key life event.
“I’m worried about the experience, because it’s a time that they get to show us everything that they get to accomplish in their 13 years of school, and this is their walking to adulthood,” she said. “It’s memories that should be cherished for the rest of your life.
Swarner lives in New York presently. Her son is 18 and a senior at Effie Kokrine Early College Charter School.
“It’s scary, because you’ve got to think, I’m thousands of miles away,” she said.
Swarner said her street was shut down Sunday night and that she can’t fly out to be with her son. Instead, she said they keep in touch with daily texts and emails, and his dad keeps her up to date.
Rhonda Widener is also worried about what her daughter, Becky, a senior at Hutchison High School, is missing out on during senior year.
“I think the hardest thing for me as a parent is I don’t get to see her play her senior year of soccer,” Widener said. “I had no idea that last year would be the last time I would see her play her favorite sport, so that one’s a hard one, and knowing that she’s missing out on that camaraderie between her friends and what it means to be a part of the class of 2020 — that’s just gone now.”
She said she’s proud of the students and that they seem to be doing social distancing, doing Facebook Live and FaceTiming each other, so they’re still chatting and getting together, just differently.
Widener, like others, had some academic concerns. Her daughter was scheduled to retake her SATs to try for a higher score so as to meet a higher level of the Alaska Performance Scholarship. Not being able to take that again affects her eligibility, she said.
She added that her daughter is worried about the school closure, saying kids watch their grades every day.
“She’s really stressed out about her GPA and she’s 3.8 or higher, but how that’s going to affect her overall GPA for her high school career, I don’t know,” Widener said.
Her daughter has also voiced uncertainty surrounding gym credits.
“One thing that she told me that I thought was interesting was a lot of kids will be half a credit short because a lot of kids wait until their senior year to knock out their gym credit,” she said, adding that students are unsure now about graduation requirements.
Yumi McCulloch, spokeswoman for the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District, wrote in response to a Daily News-Miner inquiry that information is forthcoming and that district Superintendent Karen Gaborik would be speaking next week.
“District administration will roll out the academic plan for students on Monday, March 30. Dr. Gaborik will also share the message on Facebook Live Tuesday, March 31 at 12:15pm,” she wrote.
“Graduating seniors, and all our students, remain close to our hearts as we work to meet the needs of our district students in this unprecedented time,” she continued.
While the non-student contact days continue, Widener’s daughter, who has been accepted to Washington State University, was also recently laid off from her student job, which she was looking to use to save for college.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty with scholarships and financial aid, and that’s an awful lot for these kids to take on as a mental load,” she said.
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