Virtual Learning Isolates Students

This school year was always going to be weird. Through the summer, COVID-19  cases only increased and schools were faced with a decision on how to return to school. Students were given a choice whether to come to school to learn, or to be taught online. When schools were suddenly shut down, students got a small taste of what it would be like to do virtual schooling. But for many, school practically ended in March and there were still many unknowns about what this year would be like.  The students working from home had a massive adjustment to make.

“Honestly, I chose online because I thought it would be easier than normal school. Last year was pretty easy, but I still got behind in my work. Also I thought it would be safer for me and my family. My Grandma has diabetes, and I definitely don’t want to put her at risk,” junior Jack Quillin said. 

With almost a six month break from school and normal life in general, students daily routines were upended. Now, they’re faced with starting a new routine and getting accustomed to the daily ins and outs of working from home. 

“Right when I wake up I usually just stay in bed and join my classes. Sometimes I get up a little earlier than school starts so I can have time before actually starting school. But that’s pretty rare. I usually just wake up and log on,” junior Livi Mcknight said. 

Despite still doing school every day, Mcknight still struggles to do all her work and finish assignments. Home transitioning from a place to relax to a place where school is done can be difficult.

“Doing school at home has a completely different feeling than doing it in person. I don’t usually get out of my room until around lunchtime. I sometimes don’t even get out of bed. It’s hard to find motivation at home because everyday’s usually just the same. It’s almost like if my teachers aren’t right in front of me, they’re not there at all. My grades don’t feel as real too. It’s easier to not do your work if there’s not anyone telling you to do it to your face,” Mcknight said. 

For Quillin however, the freedom of this year was difficult at first, but it has also given him an opportunity to work harder. He has been focused on improving his school habits by making a better schedule with the time that working from home has given him.

“I was not productive at all last year, and I did not get good grades. I’d be up doing homework every night and I’d usually go to bed at two or later. I really wanted to improve this year and work hard. I wake up at eight and get ready so I can be prepared for my zooms, I go to all of them. I also try to do all my work immediately and not put it off until later in the day, so the only homework I ever have only takes one or two hours. This year I go to sleep at midnight every night. That’s what has made me have the energy to work hard during the day,” Quillin said. 

Students’ interactions with teachers changed. For online students like Quillin and Mcknight, not as many questions can be asked and proper help is harder to come by. Students have had to become more accustomed to teaching themselves topics. 

“Meetings are very quiet, and I almost never talk. If I have a question about something I’ll just message the teacher later, if at all. I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot less this year. It’s no one’s fault, you just can’t really learn the same on Zoom. My teachers have been trying really hard and doing the best they can, and they have been lenient and more understanding if we haven’t been good on assignments and need extra time,” Quillin said. 

For students with younger siblings at home, there can be lots of distractions. This is especially true for McKnight, who lives with a younger sister, two younger brothers, two cats, and a dog.

“I usually stay in my room so I don’t get distracted by my siblings and pets. Sometimes I have to pick up my little brother from school if he is in person. I also have to help them with work a lot, especially when my mom is working. If they’re distracting me too much I usually have to go to the coffee shop and do my work there,” McKnight said. 

 Isolation has been a part of life during the pandemic, and Quillin said he hasn’t seen or spoken to many of the friends he used to see at school.

“I’d rather be online, but sometimes I find myself wishing I was in school so I could see the people I haven’t talked to in so long. I hung out with my friends during the summer, but there are some people that you only really hang out with at school, but you still really like them. Most of them probably wouldn’t even be there, but seeing people walking in the halls and just being at school would make life seem a little more normal,” Quillin said.