Shasta students have mixed feelings on online school
By Alex Diaz
Due to Covid-19, people have been forced to quarantine in order to prevent the spread of the virus. With this, many kids and teachers are now forced to resort to online schooling, where Zoom meetings have now taken the place of classrooms.
Zoom and online schooling is great for a number of reasons: it allows kids to continue their schooling while staying safe from the virus and allows social interactions in a safe environment.
Many schools have had to shut down due to the virus as a result of not being able to transition to online schooling. Shasta has been lucky enough to continue schooling virtually. Online schooling and Zoom conferences are a safe way for students to continue their education without the fear of spreading coronavirus or violating social distancing orders.
Online schooling also allows students to interact with others during this time of social distancing. There have been many instances of students not being able to maintain relationships with classmates outside of school. Online schooling allows students who don’t normally interact outside of school to continue talking in a safe environment
Virtual school also eases the physical burn placed on students and teachers when they have to commute to and from school. Online school allows teachers and students to sleep in a little longer and to not have to bus, drive, or walk everyday.
However, while online schooling is great for letting students continue their learning from home, it also has many downsides. A number of students have expressed that they dislike online schooling because it places a strain on their health as well as decreases motivation.
Due to the increased hours spent in front of computers and lack of breaks, many have complained about headaches as well as soreness and pains in their necks or backs. “I get headaches after sitting in front of my computer for so long,” 10th grader Melina de Souza says. The lack of breaks provided by Shasta also doesn’t help many people. Because of the lack of breaks, many people find that they don’t have the time to stretch or take a break from their screens.
Another point of concern for many students is the decrease in motivation because of online schooling and Zoom conference. Shasta junior Ashley Xiao states, “I used to be a really good student and I was usually never late on my work and I’d look forward to going to school, but since virtual learning I’ve lost all motivation to do anything for school.” Online schooling is hard to transition to and often causes many students to lose their motivation for the school year.
There are many distractions in a home environment that can easily cause a student to get sidetracked. “[It’s] harder to pay attention. It’s easier to get distracted. You’re always on your computer, your phone is right next to you, it’s so easy to use,” senior Julia Kuschner says. A home environment is full of distractions that can easily cause a student to miss out on their class. Schooling has now become more challenging as many students have the choice not to focus on their classwork.
Additionally, many students are finding it harder to create bonds with their teachers over online school. While they still do see them everyday, seeing people through a computer makes it harder to connect with them and to create bonds with each other. This can further the barrier between students and teachers and make it harder for students to reach out and ask for help when needed.
More points of complaint from Shasta students come from the fact that cameras have to be on at all times. Having cameras on at all times is often a cause of anxiety for many students. “I don’t like people seeing my face. It feels like a violation of privacy,” 12th grader, Cezar Meza expresses. Students constantly worry about what they look like on camera and avoid participating in fear that others will be able to see them. In some scenarios, students may not want to have their home life broadcasted to their classmates. While students can talk to teachers about having their cameras off, they may not want to share their private life with them.
Finally, students have complained about the stricter and more monitored learning style that Shasta has been implementing. In normal schooling, students are able to work on assignments at their own pace. While this still remains true for content assessments, it has become harder for students to pace themselves when it comes to projects. For example, in Math 2, students are now using a platform known as Desmos where the teachers can control what slides and how far students can go. While this is good for students who need teacher’s guidance, it makes it harder for students who want to go ahead and finish early. Schooling in general has become less individualized and more lecture based and group work styled, making it harder for some students to learn.
There are many improvements Shasta can make in order to create a better learning environment in virtual school.
One way students have suggested that online schooling can be improved is by allowing more breaks. “If the teacher can give us the materials we need for that class and then dismiss us, so we’re not spending as much time on our electronics, that’d be helpful,” suggests Melina. Rather than spending full 90 minute periods from 8:20 to 3:20 in front of a computer where students feel restricted, teachers can give instructions and release students for the remainder of the class period. This will allow students to get needed breaks and teach students how to manage their time.
Another way online schooling can improve is to allow students to have their cameras off. Many times, cameras slow down a student’s computer causing the lesson to be more difficult to keep up with. On top of that, having cameras on can make a student feel anxious about their appearance and can affect participation in class. Allowing cameras to be off will create a more comfortable and effective learning environment for students and teachers.
While many thought that online school would be a more temporary response to the pandemic, it has been going on for longer than expected. There are many improvements that can be made in order to make schooling better for both students and teachers. “This is a time to be the best we can be,” says Shasta’s chemistry teacher, Mr. Davey. “[…] to show Shasta students and family what we can do in education.”
Featured Image (at the top of this page): Covid-19 has caused people across the world to use an online video conferencing app known as Zoom. (Photo Credit: Zoom)