Starting on Aug. 13, the virtual school year was put into action. Although it wasn’t what anyone expected, students woke up and walked only a few steps to their desks, where they would spend their school day on a computer.
“It was nice to wake up at 8:30 and roll out of bed and get on Zoom without having to get ready to leave the house,” said senior Ryan Wilson.
Aside from learning at home, this year also looks different in terms of the school schedule. Instead of attending each class daily, students only attend their classes twice a week for 90 minutes with Wednesdays set aside for asynchronous learning along with 15 minute classes.
“The schedule makes it a lot easier to get my work done,” Wilson said. “I also like how you have any resources you want at your fingertips.”
Now, one month into the school year, students are beginning to get the hang of things. It may not be the ideal situation for everyone, but everyone is making the best with what they have.
“I think Zoom has been effective so far and teachers are doing their best with communication and lesson plans,” said junior Audrey Snider. “But, in-person learning is more effective.”
What sets normal classes apart from Zoom learning is largely in regard to being involved with the school. Students report that it’s hard to feel a connection to a school that you can’t attend on a daily basis.
“I prefer in-person school because I think I learn better with visual learning and it’s easier to do that in a classroom,” Snider said. “I also think being social and having more connections is something that you can’t get from distance learning.”
It has become clear that classes through Zoom do not have the same effect of classes that take place in person. It’s unclear if and how events like spirit days or rallies could happen in this environment, but students are hopeful some of these things will still happen.
“I prefer in-person school because I can actually see my friends/classmates,” said freshman Samantha Courtade. “It’s also more fun for spirit days and it’s easier to turn in projects/homework.”
For incoming freshmen, the transition to high school has been unsatisfactory. The period in between their eighth-grade year and the start of high school was blurry and almost incomplete.
“It still doesn’t feel like I’m in high school,” Courtade said. “I finished last year on zoom and I’m starting this year on zoom, both from the comforts of my house. I don’t feel a difference and it just feels like I’m continuing with where I was in middle school.”
While this may not be what people were looking forward to, Zoom classes still seem to be getting the job done. Teachers are teaching just as if school was taking place normally by sharing notes, posting video lectures, holding tutoring sessions, and giving the students all the help they need.
“My teachers have been super helpful throughout the beginning of the school year,” said senior Kira Givans. “Their teaching styles have adapted to the situation nicely and I feel like I’m understanding the content as well as I would be in a normal classroom.”
For many students, the hardest part of virtual learning is purely just the distance between them and a normal school year. With all sports postponed until the second semester and no back to school events, the school year feels bland so far.
“It’s pretty sad because I was hoping to have a good senior year,” Givans said. “I’m hoping that it’s safe to go back in the second semester so that everyone can experience the things that make high school fun. Distance learning is what’s right for the time being, but I think everyone is patiently waiting for the time we get to return.”
For now, distance learning is the plan that will be sticking around indefinitely. The return to normal school does not yet have a date set in place, but until then students will continue to work together even amidst uncertainty.