The 2019-2020 school year was a new start for most students finishing off their last year. Some came into their senior year, first-year, or objectively, most important year of schooling. Like most students, everyone came in to do their best, and of course, have a better year than last year. Everything was normal until the end of the year, where we all remember it like it was last week: we all got the message that school was being closed because of the newest virus, COVID-19. Of course, most of us were happy, as we had a couple days off school to relax and hang out with friends. It sounded like a dream come true. Now, more than a year into this “break,” we are all tired of it. Not only are we not able to do anything, but the school has achieved a new level of boredom, for there is only so much excitement that can happen through a screen. Since there isn’t much to do, one would assume schoolwork–the only thing we really can do–would be consuming our lives, making us all better students; but, is that really the case?
It is emphasized more than ever that how one does in online school completely depends on the student. Some hate it–they miss their friends, their classes, how little work they once had, and how much easier it was to learn in a physical classroom environment. Meanwhile, some love it. They love waking up a bit later, doing their work whenever they want, and having more time to do more things, such as hobbies, exercise, socialization with their families, etc.
Ana Martinez, a Sophomore at a Community College located in Arizona, has a college-oriented take on distance learning and puts into better perspective how people of all educational levels view the current circumstances. “At first, Covid-19 made it feel like online school was gonna be easier, but as time went by, I felt that the teachers did not know how to cope with it, and since they thought we were quarantined, they’d assign more homework, completely forgetting that most of us worked or had other responsibilities.” Because of the added pressure on teachers to more easily conform to all types of student schedules, much controversy has opened up regarding the topic of whether or not teachers are doing a decent job adjusting to distance learning. “I believe they are trying their best, but since this is all new, they don’t really know how to adapt, and instead they give more homework because they think we are not learning enough.” Similar to Martinez, most students can relate to her, as well as the immense amount of work they are handling for multiple classes–all while still taking care of their jobs or their own responsibilities. The COVID-19 and consequent learning situation in Arizona is quite similar to that here in California, but these circumstances vary dramatically from state to state.
Kallie Millard, who has lived her whole life in Missouri, has been forced through a rollercoaster in order to attend school: “For school, it has been difficult: the change from in-person, to online, to hybrid, has been messing with my motivation, but I have been able to adapt and focus and just hold on until I finish.” Like most students, Millard is having more of a difficult time adjusting in comparison to the in-person learning experience. Unlike California, Missouri has decided to let all of their students back into schools with a hybrid schedule, something rumored for the upcoming quarters of California schools as well. Students dealing with the same situational rollercoaster has made learning for most, which, according to Millard, reflects in their grades: “ It’s a lot of stress on both students and teachers, sadly some teachers are not as sympathetic as others. It has been hard to keep up even for usual 4.0+ students.” Lastly, I wondered if students in Missouri believe in a pre-covid school environment. Miss Millard responded by saying most media outlets state how the likeliness of coming back to school is low but most of us will always have the faith to coming back to school.
Logan Schwindt, a senior at Agora Cyber School located in Pennsylvania, explained the process behind Pennsylvanian students’ reactions to the beginning of online learning compared to when they began to fully adapt to the situation: “At first, everyone enjoyed not having to be in school, not dealing with any drama, nor waking up early. Everyone stuck by their close friends and had fun being together, but over time, everyone noticed it was a lot harder to learn, and [it] has impacted how everyone lived for the past couple of months. The city I am in does not have many things to do, and the things we did [before] have closed down. Nowadays, having fun is going out on a drive with your friends, and going to whatever drive-thru is open.”
The circumstances of Pennsylvania tend to parallel with those of California, and according to Schwindt, the opinions on distance learning are not too far off either. “Everyone hates it, most of us don’t have the best wifi, and the ones who do are always pushed back by the ones who don’t. The school has gotten to a point where they do not know what to do as many failed attempts of coming back occurred. And now, with the virus getting worse, there’s no chance any of us are coming back this school year.” The universal truth is most seniors all around the states won’t get their senior year, nor have even a glimpse of it–at least, not any more than a couple says in which they returned to campus before being sent home once more.
Luke Olives, a Welsh Student, dramatically felt the change between ‘normal’ life, and his reinvented life, which takes into account COVID-19 shutdowns and precautions. Olives explained how a normal day was a very “stress-free” day, with small chatting between their classes, and for most, an after-school session of rugby. But now, with the pandemic in play, Welsh students are severely limited in their activities: no partying, no rugby, and hardly having time to socialize. In Wales, going out to eat or going shopping was left in the past, with the most recent “firebreak,” or as we call it, quarantine, happening last November for 17 days. “Since the last firebreak, College reopened making us do two days online, two days in person, and our three day weekends,” Olives said. “Although it might seem really easy, the dynamic and change we all adapted to make all of our mates’ grades drop tremendously. Peers who only scored high scores are now medium scored students, and the ones who were medium scored are part of the non-passing groups.” Olives explained how most students 16 to 18 are now in college but have the option to opt-out. In Wales, once you are 16, you get to go to college and study to fit your career, as well as drop all general education classes–unlike here in the states. This led to most students to not only drop their general education classes but to drop-out of college entirely.
As COVID-19 numbers seemingly lower as vaccinations are dispersed throughout the United States, as well as other countries, the hopes of returning to a normal world–including a normal school day–are high among students across the globe.