Sam: The UK Student Experience
Sam should have been sitting her A-Level exams this year. As a result of the pandemic, she is not having any lessons, and is now simply "waiting for university". Sam explains the unprecedented A-Level grading system now employed by the school: "Our teachers are giving us an estimated grade and then putting is in a "class order". For example, if they predicted 3 people in the class to get an A, the person at the top of the class order is in a strong A position, and the 3rd person is in a weak A grade position." This means the person in third place is at risk of having their result downgraded to a B.
A year 13 student could normally expect to attend prom, freshers' week, and celebrate their 18th birthday. However, for many students across the world, such events have been postpone - if not, completely cancelled.
However, Sam does note that a lot of her stress was a result of school, meaning "lockdown [has] helped in many ways." The student recalls, "I'm learning to take time for myself and the self care activities I enjoy and discover which work the best at relaxing me. However, it's a bit of a rollercoaster." Sam explains that she is particularly anxious about her loved ones' wellbeing, while being stuck inside "sometimes worsens [her] eating disorder".
Sam elaborates on the toll she has endured mentally: “I've not been able to attend crucial CBT (Cognital Behavioural Therapy) sessions with a therapist for my mental health, and I was not able to attend a relative's funeral when they passed away. I was also supposed to take my final exams right now but now they are being predicted by my teachers and some of my teachers dislike me so might judge my grade more negatively. Also, my parents have poor health and are potentially going to have to return to work. They both work in primary schools with children ages 4-11. Kids can't socially distance. If my dad gets the virus (if he hasn't already), he could die.” Samantha has also displayed symptoms of COVID-19, although has not been tested for it.
Sam does not feel that anybody near her is "overly concerned" about the lockdown guidelines, while "some people" are wearing PPE, although not a majority. She feels that the UK government's response to the pandemic has been "deeply flawed and catastrophic", while the media's presentation has been "flawed". She fears the upcoming months could be financially "challenging".
Poignantly, Sam declares: "In the UK, the government are lying to us." She believes that the government's figures on the number of people tested are too high, while the reported death toll is too low. She believes the country's leaders "are not following scientific advice, and are relaxing the lockdown too soon." Sam proceeds to cite a statistic which suggests that over 60,000 excess deaths have occurred as a result of coronavirus in the UK. The decision to ease lockdown, she believes, is "all for the sake of the economy".