To mitigate the risk of COVID-19 cases in the schools, the District decided this summer to split the school in half by cohorts according to last name to accommodate for social distancing within the building. While one cohort attends classes in-person, the other cohort meets virtually through online platforms like Zoom or Google Meet. Both groups of students attend classes remotely on Wednesdays.
At presstime, the school has now moved into a period of remote learning because of an uptick in positive COVID tests.
Students have found that the two learning environments have their advantages and disadvantages. Some find that the normality of a school day is best maintained when they learn within a physical classroom.
“I prefer going to classes in-person because it is easier to focus, absorb the material, and maintain productivity. It feels as close to a real school day as possible,” said Jocelyn Li ’23.
A key element of the school environment is the connection with peers and teachers built through discussions and simple conversation. Some students feel that talking face-to-face with teachers and peers contains certain energy that cannot be replicated through a screen.
“I like having discussions in the classroom because talking through Zoom does not carry the same lively and accepting atmosphere,” said Lillie Ayer ’21. “I also get the chance to chat with my friends before and after class, which is difficult to do when we are virtual.”
On the other hand, students like Iris Xia ’22 believe that the remote classes can be a relief because they mitigate the hyperawareness of safety regulations like masks and social distancing that divert attention from learning.
“At school, I find that COVID-19 precautions can distract me from a lesson. For example, when I shift my desk to keep six feet apart from someone else, I lose focus from the lesson for a couple of seconds,” said Xia.
Furthermore, since the start time for in-person and remote students are the same, remote students can sleep for an extra twenty minutes that would otherwise be spent traveling to the school. Additionally, students can also make use of the fifteen minutes between classes to finish an assignment or to quickly review before an exam. At school, this time is reduced since students must walk around the building to their next class.
Students also favor the remote learning method because their increased independence encourages them to practice better habits and routines with time management and organization — skills that will become essential in the future.
“Although it is definitely difficult, the online classes push me to be more aware of my time and organization. No teacher is there to direct me to focus or complete an asynchronous assignment, so it is up to me,” said Li.
While the surveyed students generally favored in-person classes, each student found multiple benefits in remote learning. Learning in the classroom maintains a normal school environment that promotes productivity and builds bonds between teachers and peers, while the remote classes ensure safety, increase sleep and studying time, and enhance important management skills.
With the high school’s plan to remain remote until December 1, the majority of surveyed students expressed disappointment but have found a silver lining in online learning.
“Going back to fully remote learning makes me miss talking and spending time with my teachers and friends face-to-face because Zoom feels more isolating,” said Xia. “However, this at-home period before a holiday is a great opportunity for me to spend more time with my family.”
Despite the two remote weeks and every individual’s in-person or online preference, students are learning to be adaptive and prepared for change.
“While each form of learning has its advantages and disadvantages, I know the school is doing its best to provide a sense of normality during the school year. I have really enjoyed the hybrid model, but we have to remember to be flexible since everything changes constantly,” said Ayer.