For students and teachers at Central and across the country, the pandemic has made people change schools, some for the better, and some worse. Some virtual students may feel they’re missing out on their high school experience.
Football games, seeing friends, and enjoying favorite classes are just a few of the activities virtual students took for granted before COVID-19 changed everything. Teachers miss talking with and getting to know new students every year in the ways they’re used to. But for some, virtual school may be easier for them than going to physical school.
Briana Lopez is a sophomore at CHS. She goes to school in person. She said, “the whole class takes bathroom breaks… they also have mask breaks.” She thinks that online schooling seems easier; however, she would rather do “in-person” schooling because she feels it’s good to get out of the house and it’s good to interact with others. She also thinks everyone should have done online schooling regardless of the parents or teachers choice. These are the reasons she thinks it’s easy: Online schoolers don’t have to get up and get ready in the morning and they don’t have to wear a mask. She thinks the work is equal.
Jaiden Earles is a sophomore at CHS as well. He is currently doing online schooling. He said, “ Online school is different because you can do your work whenever you want. All you have to do is what you are tasked to do and then attend any meetings you may have and then you’re done.” He believes school from home is harder because at home there are more distractions, and you don’t have your teacher to ask questions and get instant results.
He can’t really say if the work is equal or not because he doesn’t know if the classes he has would be easier or harder this year. Jaiden said he would rather do online because if he finished all of his tasks before the end of the school day, he gets to do whatever he wants instead of waiting for school to end. He believes everyone should have done online because people at school are putting themselves at risk to COVID-19.
Ms. Menendez teaches English at Central. For her, the biggest difference is putting all her content online now. Not only is she spending more time at the copier each week, she also sees that students are writing more and staying more on task during instructional time. She thinks part of that is simply because typing is faster than handwriting, but she thinks another reason is because we all love getting rid of notifications on our devices. In order to get rid of those notifications in Canvas, students need to be keeping up with the work.
As a teacher, she said that it’s hard to say if online schooling or in person schooling is harder. But she would imagine virtual may be harder for a lot of students just because they don’t have in-person access to an instructor for 90 minutes every day. She said, “When my in-person students run into technical difficulties or don’t understand a concept we’re learning, they can immediately ask me for help. Virtual students don’t have that luxury.”
She believes the intellectual work is equal. She is not assigning more content to either her in-person or virtual classes. Ms. Menendez says “in-person students may feel they are having to do more work simply because they are expected to be engaged for an entire school day. When virtual students finish their work they can be done for the day. When in-person students finish work, we usually go over it together or have a class discussion in order to take advantage of the full class period.” In the beginning, she would have preferred online because it is without a doubt safer for everyone. She still believes this. However, she thinks she can provide more intensive instruction to her in-person students, and she enjoys getting to know them personally. That’s harder to do online.
Kayla Nicola is a senior during this pandemic. She says that virtual school has become easy to her. When asked about her virtual experience, Kayla says, “My opinion is that it is a very good form of school to do, really easy to navigate once you figure it out, the passport to virtual learning helped me with a few things, but I found that actually starting the school work from each teacher worked better for learning how to do everything.” She does not miss in-person school and thinks virtual learning is the best option for her because it is less stressful and she can take breaks when needed.
However, Kayla does think that virtual school have its downsides. Sometimes she forgets about the attendance by a certain time and is counted absent for that day. She expresses her concerns, “So far it obviously has affected me a lot, I can’t go to any football games and I can’t see any of my peers anymore, so I do miss some of that, overall I feel like I’m pretty okay with it though, only thing I’m worried about is graduation, and how that will go.” She also misses the teacher teaching in a way that helps her succeed, and asking questions and getting an in depth answer.
Gracie Buckner, a junior, has some similar opinions to Kayla; she loves virtual school, but misses the teacher teaching because she learns better that way. Gracie misses her Chinese class the most, “I was in Chinese 1 before covid happened and I miss it so much, I miss learning about the culture and language.” She also missed football games and seeing her friends every day.
Gracie’s grades are affected by the virtual school, there are many distractions at home that can make you not pay attention to work. She does think that it is more relaxing and less stressful than actual school, “it’s your own pace and you can’t be bullied or picked on. and I’m by myself, so I learn a little better.” Overall, for Gracie, virtual school has been better than regular in-person school and she likes it a lot more.
Charley Bible is an in-person junior who enjoys being back in her school routine and loves to see her friends again, but she is having a hard time after being out of school for 5 months. Some of her friends are online and that upsets her because she misses them deeply, “ I also can’t sit with all of my friends at lunch since the seats are socially distanced. I also feel bad for the seniors this year since their last year of high school is being spent with a mask on and being socially distanced.”
Charley is in the marching band and has been since freshman year; she misses playing in the stands in football games and going to away games, all things she cannot do because of COVID-19. When asked if it’s harder going to school during a pandemic she responds, “I believe it’s harder going to school during this time because of the precautions we all have to take, but having the Football Games makes it seem like a more normal week. I don’t think I am missing out on much, everything is ‘normal’ but with new precautions.”
Overall, COVID-19 has changed the school environment for everybody. Whether students do virtual or in-person, school looks very different these days.
Written by Ryland Beckmann and Heaven Hudson
Read more from The Bobcat Times:
William England on COVID-19 and more