One week after Heritage switched to fully remote learning on November 10, the rest of the district followed, currently planning to stay on a remote schedule until January. This switch has had a large impact on students and teachers alike, and has left people wondering what’s next.
History teacher Mrs. Shannon Roybal shares her view of how students are being impacted socially.
“Even if you don’t have friends in your classes, school is still a social release, and it benefits people to be around other human beings. This whole experience is forcing kids to grow up faster than they should. [Students’] brains are not developmentally ready for this, and yet, we have thrown them into it,” says Roybal.
This concern is shared by Mr. Brian Powers of the Counseling department.
“I just don’t think it’s the best thing that students have to mix all these worlds from their basement or from their bedroom and not have that contact with other people. That’s just not a healthy thing in the long run for any of us,” says Powers.
Though worries regarding emotional and social needs are abundant, there are also several logistical concerns.
“When [students] are taking tests at home, I know that I’m letting go of some control. Assessments have been a nightmare,” says Roybal. “I get a lot of students who say that they can’t have their camera on because of internet problems, and I just have to assume that’s the truth. I just hope for the best.”
In addition to obstacles during class time, the finals week plan remains undecided.
“We finally got a finals schedule figured out, but that was with being in-person, and then this happened,” says Roybal. “I have no idea what’s going to happen with finals week.”
As teachers try to make school as educationally valuable as possible, students are struggling to learn. Autumn Lerdal ’22 describes her experience with online lectures.
“I wish that teachers would shorten the lectures and give us a break during class to be able to take a breather after sitting all day. If I’m sitting the whole time, I notice that I start to drift off, so I have to pull myself back together,” says Lerdal.
Charlotte Andersen ’21 echoes this take and gives her teachers credit for their efforts.
“I think teachers are trying and I really appreciate them. This kind of thing is hard to do remotely, so I give them a bit of kudos. It’s just difficult to stay focused when we have an hour and a half to just sit there on a computer,” says Andersen.
Despite all of the issues and stressors, there remains a sense of optimism regarding the willingness of educators to push through.
“We’re social creatures, so we can reinvent this wheel and try to do all of this online, and I think teachers are certainly going to do their best to press forward,” says Powers. “People really care about what we do. I feel like teachers are trying harder than they ever have before, for even less return. They haven’t given up, and they know how important it is to try and help kids.”
More than anything, students and staff alike worry about the emotional impact of fully remote learning.
“I miss being able to go to Orchestra class and play with everyone else. Having that music in my day meant a lot to me,” says Lerdal.
This focus on extracurriculars is shared by Roybal.
“When I think of high school, I don’t remember my academics,” says Roybal. “I remember all of my friends and all of the activities I did. I remember being in band, choir, volleyball, and theatre. I remember those social interactions.”
Many of these social aspects can only be found at school, and they cannot return until in-person learning resumes.
“This just reinforces how important it is for kids to have this physical space to come to, and for us to be a community together,” says Powers. “You can’t replace that by going online.”
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