After almost a full year of participating in school from home, the time finally came to move back to learning in the classroom. On March 29, juniors and seniors were welcomed back into the classroom. However, things weren’t exactly the same as they were when students left. Students were required to wear facial coverings and socially distance while in school in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The biggest change that students encountered when they returned was that some students didn’t return at all. In order to limit the size of classes, students were split up into two separate groups; those with last names beginning with A through L, and those with last names beginning with M through Z. One group joins fellow students in the classroom, while the other joins online using Google Meet, just like before. Each day, these groups alternate, creating a brand new form of learning called hybrid learning.
Most students were eager to finally see their fellow classmates again in person. Even if facial coverings are required, and students can no longer sit right next to each other, being near classmates again was a nice change of pace after months of online learning. However, not everyone is able to have this luxury. Some students opted to stay home and continue with full time distance learning. Teachers were eager to see their students in-person for the first time this year.
“One of the greatest advantages of in-person learning is just having the chance to make sincere small-talk with my students,” English teacher Cari Swoboda said. “Having the chance to just ‘chat’ with students–as people and not icons–has been wonderful.”
One of the larger advantages in-person learning has over online learning is the decrease in outside distractions. With online learning, most students would be attending class at home, which increases the chance of distractions, such as family members or pets that need students’ attention.
While that may make online learning sound bad, in-person learning comes with its own problems, too. One of the more concerning problems is the risk of Covid-19. While the chances of getting it are quite low, with all the safety precautions staff has made for the school, parents might still be wary of sending their students to school, especially with the amount of cases that have occurred recently.
“I feel very comfortable with how the school is handling the in-person learning,” junior Gillian Moore said. “Not only with the safety protocols, but all the staff have been very warm and welcoming as well.”
Another problem hybrid learning has is the loss of the luxury online learning students constantly take advantage of. Online learning students can simply turn off their cameras, and do something in the background, such as grab a snack, use the bathroom, or catch up on other schoolwork.
However, in-person learning takes away this luxury entirely. Now, the teacher is always aware when you aren’t focused on classwork. There’s also the strict no-food policy, which has students attend classes for nearly five hours without the advantage of grabbing a snack that online learners have. Lunches are available to students as they leave the building after classes.
“I feel more motivated to get work done during remote learning,” Moore said. “At school I just want to talk to my friends while during remote learning, I can just focus, listen to music, and get stuff done.”
In-person learning can also be difficult from the teacher’s perspective, due to the fact that during hybrid learning, they have to focus on both the students in front of them and the students learning online.
“My natural reaction as a teacher is to gravitate toward the students I can see in front of me,” Swoboda said. “It’s definitely a challenge to stay cognizant of those who are depending on me for instruction from home.”
For the most part, the first few days of hybrid learning have been successful at SHS. There are an abundance of rules and Covid-related guidelines but the students who have showed up have been able to navigate them with few problems so far. This has been the first step towards what many students and staff are hoping will be a full-time return to “normal” next fall.