2020 has been a rough, challenging year, but we all persevered and were able to make the most out of what we were dealt. Schools sadly closed in March 2020. We had to go through online learning, which was a new, challenging experience. After almost a year, the number of coronavirus cases have started decreasing and teachers are starting to get vaccinated so we can all return to school safely. Students have the option to stay virtual, but nearly 100% of the JW teachers are going back. We interviewed staff and students in JW to gain their perspective on the online experience and their thoughts on returning to the school building.
Pros & Cons of In-Person School and Remote Learning
Online school has been a challenge for most people, and some want to return to school. Looking at the bright side, coronavirus lets us socialize more with our family. Sixth-grader Victoria K. said, “I don’t want to go back to school because it’s scary if there is a case and because I really like staying online [...] you get to have more socialization with your family and bond more, but if we go back to school in-person there won’t be that much social interaction with my family.” Even though we all don’t have a normal interaction and socialization in middle school, we all could socialize more with our family, siblings, or other people who live with us.
On the other hand, many teachers and students think that going to school will affect their safety. We all have been learning virtually for almost a year, so a lot of students and teachers have gotten used to the online process, and when we go back to in-person learning, our routine or process will change. Sixth grade English teacher Ms. Wontrop stated, “We've worked really hard to get into a groove, and I feel like most students feel confident with online learning at this point. Keeping the routine of how we're learning this year consistent is helpful for both teachers and students alike, but seems like we'll all be adjusting to hybrid learning together!” However, virtual learning has prevented us from doing all the fun activities because we might not have access to all the materials. Sixth-grader Lucia N. stated, “I really want to go back to school because you don’t get to do certain fun activities and you don’t get to socialize as much as you would in person.” We all have expressed different opinions on which learning environment we like better, but once COVID-19 is over, we can all go back to in-person learning safely.
How Teachers Manage Working Virtually
Distance learning has been hard for most students and teachers. Students have to do homework on their computer and attend all their classes, but teachers have way more things to accomplish during the day. They have to grade assignments, attend all classes, stay connected with students if they need any help, create Google Slides for their classes, attend any teacher meetings, and so much more--and being virtual makes it harder. But how do teachers manage all of that work and still be able to accomplish everything? Sixth-grade teacher Ms. Wontrop explains, “I manage working virtually by making a list of what I need to do each day and crossing things off as I accomplish each task. I also plan ahead so that I don't feel overwhelmed and I can organize things for both me and my students. I like to have everything created mid-week for the following week so I can then make my modules and focus on grading and helping students. So far it seems to be working.” Every teacher has a different strategy or motivation that leads them to their success, but they all put in a lot of effort into providing a wonderful educational experience.
Thoughts And Feelings About Going Back To School
We have all been going through a lot, but we all have different emotions and feelings to process throughout this transition. There is no right answer to this question. Sixth-grade World Studies teacher, Mr. Kim, stated, “Everyone agrees that school buildings will reopen at some point. So, why rush the reopening of school buildings before more, if not all, of the general population can get vaccinated? So, a lot of the unknowns make me anxious about returning. But, despite that, I'm ready to do all that I can to meet the needs of the students and am excited to be in the classroom again.” Returning to the school building might cause some students and teachers to feel anxious and frustrated while others mights feel joyful and excited. Everyone is going through this challenging process, so know that you're not alone in how you might be feeling. Sixth-grade student Rafaela K. said, “I have mixed feelings about going to school in-person and not in-person. I want to go back to school because I want to socialize more. At the same time, not all teachers are vaccinated yet, and it's scary if there's a [confirmed COVID-19] case at JWMS.”
Even though we are all experiencing a difficult time, we are going through it together, and sooner or later, we will be back to the school building as safely as possible.