Written by: Vivian Zhou
End of a Semester
With the first semester of the 2020-2021 school year coming to an end at Staten Island Technical High School, students got to experience a new way of learning: remote and blended. In the summer before the school year, the Department of Education proposed the idea of blended and remote learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Within this proposal, students had the option of going to school for 2-3 days or staying remote and learning from home. Due to unpredictable circumstances regarding the pandemic in November, high school students had to switch back to remote learning entirely. This was a new way of attending classes that students had to adapt to. After a year of remote learning, I decided to ask a few students and parents about their thoughts on remote learning and the possibility of returning to a “normal life” with in-person learning.
Opinions on Remote Learning
Parents, along with students, have varying opinions on this new way of learning. While some found its perks, others dislike it. Two parents from Staten Island Tech stated, “this type of learning is not suitable for younger children, especially when they have the tendency to stay on their devices for the whole day.” It also prevents them from socializing with their peers, which can affect their development. However, they said this is the best way to learn during the pandemic, as safety and health always come first. “Remote learning is a hassle, having to deal with both Zoom's technical difficulties and internet connection issues,” stated Sophia, a student from Staten Island Tech. She went on to say that teachers may get the wrong impression when students have internet connection issues. She also believes that people’s overall mentality starts to deteriorate during these distressing times. Experts also agreed with this statement. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) stated that the COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful and overwhelming for everyone, especially for households struggling with job insecurity and dealing with grief. Some ways to cope with this are to meditate, exercise regularly, and maintain a consistent sleep schedule (CDC, 2021).
“It’s been a year since remote learning began, so I guess it’s going okay. People have varying opinions about it, and personally I think it is harder learning at home because I find it too comfortable [here],” stated Amanda, who is also a student at Staten Island Tech. Like Sophia, Amanda finds some difficulties with online learning.
However, one student seems to have a differing viewpoint. An anonymous Staten Island Tech student stated that she is doing well with remote learning. Even though she finds it harder to keep track of assignments, she finds the flexibility of the remote schedule very appealing. She believes the current situation is not as bad compared to others, but it would be nice for her to be able to engage outside, along with school activities in person, as well as seeing friends.
It is safe to say, through these students’ and parents’ opinions, that there are downsides to remote learning, especially with technical difficulties and time management.
With more vaccines rolling out to reach the majority of the population, experts believe vaccination will be the way to end the pandemic. To reach herd immunity, experts state that the country must reach a vaccination rate of at least 65%, where the rate should be closer to 85% (Weise, Weintraub, 2021). However, some professionals, like Dr. William Schaffer, believe the virus will not leave us completely. “We've been told that this virus will disappear. But it will not,” he stated (Silverstein, 2021). However, it is likely to say that many Americans and students want this pandemic to end.
The two parents stated, “We want this pandemic to end so that normal life can resume, and so that our kids will be able to learn in school again.” “I am looking forward to normal life, but not so much as in person learning,” the anonymous tech student stated.
Sophia is not certain on going back to regular activities and life, since it may take time to readjust to a normal school schedule. However, she misses social interactions with friends, and would rather see friends in person instead of “messaging them lifelessly through messages to simply ask for homework help.”
With many distractions at home, Amanda looks forward to returning to school, where she hopes to see her friends. “Hopefully, the pandemic will end soon,” she stated.
It is agreed upon by parents and students that they cannot wait for the pandemic to finally end, in which they can go back to normal life.
CDC. (2021, January 22). Coping with Stress. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
Silverstein, J. (2021, March 12). When will COVID-19 end? A year into the pandemic, public health experts say: Never. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-endemic-disease-never-going-away/
Weise, E., Weintraub K. (2021, March 11). What does the victory against the COVID-19 pandemic look like? USA TODAY’s vaccine panel weights in. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/health/2021/03/11/vaccine-panel-experts-disagree-what-end-pandemic-means/4631291001/