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Students struggle to find room for improvement during virtual school’s challenges

By Clayton Schmidt and Justin Tilbury

Staff Writers

As the first semester of the school year comes to a close, many American students have remained unsatisfied with online school. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted daily routines around the world; with pressure to stay isolated at home as much as possible, most American students are taking online classes.

American schools have been implementing online classes since March 2020, when the pandemic became more problematic. Although schools have had much time to experiment with their virtual schooling systems, the majority of students have disliked the change to an entirely virtual lifestyle.

Students have uncovered a variety of tech-related problems throughout their virtual schooling experience this year. Sebastian Jáquez, a Summit Denali junior, said, “There’s been many internet issues … if I have a lot of tabs open often it would disconnect me from the internet.” 

Tech issues have been a nuisance for many students this year, but the most significant drawback is one that has affected many Americans regardless of age. Social isolation has followed the mandating of COVID restrictions and is impacting many student’s motivation towards school. Lance Schmidt, a Summit Denali eighth-grader, struggles as he “can’t be with friends and it gets really boring at home”.

 An ongoing problem for these students is the lack of human socialization. Caeden Longshore, a Summit Denali freshman, has expressed deep frustration with the fact that he cannot socialize in person: “Not being able to go out and it is my freshman year, so that is when I should be able to make friends at a new school.” 

That frustration goes for high school seniors too. Ocean Grove Charter senior Clare Riker has been having problems socializing with “specific people I don’t see as often or ever”.  Not being able to see friends and people, in general, has taken a toll on students’ productivity. 

The ongoing isolation of students in their homes has created challenges with individualized schedules for an online school. Riker has expressed concerns about handling a more individualized school schedule. “A lot of it is…on my own schedule, so it doesn’t get done.”

 Jáquez has also had challenges handling his workload this year. He said, “[Virtual school] has made my ability to retain information shorter because there’s a million and one things around my head.”

Based on the students’ experiences quoted previously, virtual school has been stressful and challenging in many ways. However, some students have been able to find and take advantage of areas that benefit their virtual learning. Union Middle student Ryan Chastain has enjoyed online school since it started back up last August. “I’ve been able to stay more comfortable throughout the school day,” he said.

Schmidt, as quoted earlier, also shared an area which he enjoys about virtual learning. “[Online school] is a lot easier because you know what to do when it’s all online,” he said.

These students are finding virtual school very difficult, and even though schools are trying to give support to these students, there are still outliers that can’t be fixed. “It is also harder to get work done because at home there are often distractions that can make it hard to focus,” Summit Tahoma junior Aakash Baliga said. “Students have family members who distract them from their work, so they find it hard to complete their work.”

Students also find learning through a screen complicated compared to real-life learning. Baliga said, “Also, learning is much easier when being taught in person as opposed to watching someone on a screen.” 

Students are also finding it difficult to understand what is being expected of them in school. High school junior Vinnie Marioni said, “I feel like it’s hard to pay attention and much harder to convey the curriculum to students.” 

Students are also facing hard times connecting to students and teachers. Summit Denali junior Maya Rohes said, “I real-life school because I can’t connect  with my community the way I could in real life schooling.” Students are struggling to connect with people, which according to some people, is affecting their motivation. 

Rohes, as quoted previously, “I found it easier to try my best when I could be with the teacher and form a connection with them. Now it’s extremely hard to get motivated.” Students are lacking motivation, which affects their work.

By taking away school’s social, personal, and physical aspects, the last year’s online struggle has continued into 2021. Many students have struggled, and most have just lost faith in online education altogether, just cranking through each day in the hopes that in-person school will return. Some students, however, have identified flaws that could be fixed in the meantime.

Rohes suggested, “More community time…and they should reopen g-chat it’s limiting our communications…with teachers.” 

In response, Marioni believes schools should “start in person because online school is very flawed and hard to work.” He said he had lost faith in online school altogether and he doesn’t believe there is a good enough way to improve it. 

Baliga agrees. He expressed, “I’m not really sure how they can make it better. I guess we just have to wait until COVID is over.” Baliga, however, suggested that the online workload should be lightened to give students an easier time until regular school returns.

From many American students’ perspective, virtual school has been rough, posing problem after problem while the schools themselves have attempted to create the best online experiences. Unfortunately, most American students are facing daily problems with their virtual schooling. Although there are a handful of students who prefer their online classes, it is prominent that there are many issues that need to be improved to make virtual school a suitable option moving into an unknown future.

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