Being a teenager is by no means easy. Every day, teens are faced with the stress of classwork, friend drama and extracurricular activities — all of which contribute to a burdensome amount of confusing and sometimes overwhelming emotions.

Throwing a global pandemic into the mix produces a whole new array of unimaginable challenges that teens must overcome. Some are missing their first high school sports seasons, their choral concerts, their last high school prom or even their graduation. No matter what each teen may be missing out on, they all seem to share the common feelings of disappointment, stress and isolation.

Teens have been pulled away from the structured routine that a normal school day brings: with early wake-ups, hour-long classes in a room full of half-awake students, social interaction with peers and respected adults, sports practices, and hours of homework and studying. The absence of a systematic routine leaves students, especially teenagers, more likely to slip into a pool of bad habits.

While the phased reopenings of states across the country are allowing people to finally enjoy eating out at restaurants, shopping at malls and even traveling, COVID-19 still poses significant risks. Will our world ever be the same? The truth is, probably not. Parents and students all over are all wondering the same things. Will students return to school in the fall or continue with distance learning? If schools reopen, will teens be forced to wear masks? Will schools shift to a staggered learning schedule in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus? These are all questions we are unable to answer yet, creating a new level of anxiety and fear.

Although it is impossible to know what the future holds, I have put together a list of tips for teens just like me, who are struggling with the uncertainty and unpredictability of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Take edX courses: edX offers free online courses by Harvard, MIT and more. There is a huge range of subjects, guaranteeing that every student will find something interesting. This is a great way to keep your brain healthy and strong over the summer. (For a fee of $45, you can receive a verified certificate of completion).

  • Share books through a Little Free Library: Donate some of your old books for others to enjoy to a Little Free Library box near you.

  • Organize a PPE drive in your area: Many hospitals are low on personal protective equipment, like masks and gowns. Send out emails to family and friends to see if anyone has extra PPE gear to donate. State-by-state links to hospital and health clinics can be found on the website.

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