Photo by Melissa Redlich.
A year without real human connection. A year without “normal” classes. A year without football games and school sports. A year everyone wants to put behind them.
Students already missed a year and a half of in-person school, now it is time to move forward. Students are back in school for a reason: in-person learning is more beneficial for students’ academic and social lives than virtual school.
While the virtual school days of 2020 and 2021 are thankfully in the past, school systems are now debating whether to go virtual again for a waiting period of 14 days.
As of publication date, according to the Montgomery County website, 83.5 percent of residents are vaccinated with their first two shots. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported that vaccination breakthrough infections are possible, they lead to much milder symptoms and fewer hospitalizations than people who are not vaccinated. Also, between Jan. 12 and Jan. 19, COVID-19 cases in MCPS have gone down by nearly 1,000. These statistics demonstrate that the risk is decreasing and with this being said, WCHS should stay in-person.
Socially, virtual learning was a challenge. Students spent months feeling catatonic and scrolling mindlessly on their phones, barely glancing at the black boxes on Zoom. If it was difficult enough to stay in touch with old friends, meeting new people was even tougher.
According to “Psychology Today,” teens often meet new friends through sports, after-school activities or during class. Creating new friendships when classes become online lectures is even more challenging.
Aside from the social aspect, in-person classes give students more opportunities to learn and better understand material they may be struggling with. During in-person school students are able to go to teachers’ rooms to ask questions and clarify information at lunch. What is this like with virtual school?
Zoom office hours are 25 minutes long, where students can ask questions to their teachers. How many students actually go to these office hours, even when they are struggling? Very few. This is because it is less accessible and more difficult to get your questions answered.
Cengage, a digital learning and online textbook platform, reported that during virtual office hours, teachers “wait in solitude for students to take advantage of one-on-one time with [them].” This is a waste of time for teachers and a poor option for students.
Another reason why students do not utilize office hours is because of the numerous other things they may be doing such as watching television, talking to a sibling or FaceTiming a friend. There are so many distractions at home that are eliminated when students are back in the school building. A Rutgers University blog explains that in online school, electronics are often left where students are working, distracting them from finishing their assignments or even listening to the teacher. These distractions often result in students having more work after classes are done, since students must complete both classwork and homework.
Some say that virtual school leads to more sleep and additional hours of rest. However, this is inaccurate.
Revenge bedtime procrastination. Three words that you would never expect to be caught in the same phrase. The meaning, one may ask? The Sleep Foundation Organization describes it as the sacrifice of sleep for leisure time when someone knows that they do not have a wake-up schedule the next day. Essentially, no matter the difference between online and in-person schooling, students will be getting the same amount of sleep.
On the topic of rest, some contend that learning virtually saves time because students no longer have to commute and with online school, students must spend more time learning alone, since they are not absorbing as much information in their Zoom classes as they would in school.
Yes, online school is great when you want to sit in bed and pretend your teacher is a podcast in the background. However, this attitude is detrimental to students and their grades.
In the short term, it may be an easy way to coast, but in the long term, students will struggle more. Pick and choose: short-term satisfaction or long-term happiness?