At first glance, the transition to online classes seems to be working. With COVID-19 health concerns, this seems to be the best option. However, after further inspection, there are some underlying issues with this new arrangement. Keep reading to find out more about these hidden faults.
My Experience Moving to Online Classes
The news that our school was moving to remote was announced while in fourth period on Friday, March 13th. We were simply sitting doing everything we regularly do for math. Suddenly our teacher told us to check our phones. Now, this was very surprising as we are never allowed to check our phones in math, of all classes. But we could tell our teacher was serious. Someone in my class suddenly screamed. By this point, I was definitely very confused. All was, however, revealed when I saw that an email had been sent out by our school district. School had been canceled for the next three weeks due to health concerns about the spread of COVID-19, more commonly known as the coronavirus.
A few minutes after the entire class had read and re-read the email approximately 100 times, our principal came onto the P.A. System and started to tell us about the changes that would be taking place in the next few days. We would be moving to "Remote Learning" for as long as it was necessary. Nobody knew what this meant. Even our teacher was clueless as to what this meant for our class. Our principal went on to explain that we had the next week as a break while the teachers could figure out what they wanted to do for their classes. Everyone was utterly frozen throughout the time it took for this announcement, but the moment it was over, the class erupted into complete pandemonium.
Students were overjoyed at the thought of "no-school" for the next three weeks, and even now, a month into online classes, that seems to be the mood. In our district, the amount of COVID-19 cases has only gone up after school was canceled, and a "shelter-in-place" has taken effect. Three weeks after the school announced the 3-week closure, California governer Gavin Newsom announced that all California schools would be closed until the end of this school year. We have been doing everything online for the last month, and while it seems to be working there are some definite setbacks and faults in the system.
What seems to be working?
Despite the situation being challenging for students and teachers alike, our district has taken a very effective route to make sure every student receives education during this period. After a week worth of preparation, our school district released a "schedule" for how our school was going to work. They had split up every day into two blocks of time and allotted time for teachers to hold online classes. This is the schedule that all schools in our area are following currently:
Our teachers also sent us their own separate "green-sheets" with instructions on what their classes were going to look like. These explained the expectations for their class time online and highlighted how they were going to deal with homework and assessments. Teachers were offered two types of systems to enforce in their classes. They could conduct online class check-ins on the conferencing platform called "Zoom" and then assign homework to be due next week, or they could use their class period as a time to complete certain assignments and not have a virtual check-in.
While most of my teachers decided to use the Zoom method, there were two teachers that preferred to use the assignment method. So far, these systems have worked fairly efficiently. A lot has changed since the day schools closed down for the first time, but our teachers keep supporting us and offering us a lot of advice on how to deal with these times. There are a lot of times that we can ask our teachers for any help we might need with school work and classwork, and we get plenty of time to work on said assignments.
What is not working?
While the system works really efficiently there are certain things that setback this progress. After our school revealed that we would be using Zoom for this online learning period, a new form of "crime" erupted, called Zoom Bombing. Zoom Bombing is when internet trolls hack into zoom calls and spam inappropriate content or use the platform's "screen-share" function to show the unwitting participants of the call obscene images and content.
Zoom Bombing has caused a lot of trouble, most notably to an online version of Junior Prom taking place for our high school. Zoom Bombers infiltrated the zoom meeting for Prom and spammed the chat feature with derogatory terms and even started to draw crude images on their screens. The call had to be ended and the culprits are now facing the office about the use of such language and behavior.
In addition to this security threat, there is no motivation left in students to work for anything. What is the point? School faculty are trying to keep the student body motivated, but nobody seems to pay any attention to these futile efforts. Another downside of being at home is the temptation to do things that are unrelated to school. With no way to really track what a student is doing during a class period, since they can simply turn their camera off in Zoom, students have been known to zone out of the class and are on their phone the whole time. This has caused many problems as well.
My Thoughts and Experience
For me personally, online school has been nothing but fun. Everything is so much easier than it was when we were actually at school. All tests have been turned into open-note assessments, and all homework sizes have reduced greatly. So what's not to love? Easy. Friends. After school closed down a month ago, I have not seen any of my friends. I have talked to them of course, but that has been through -- you guessed it -- zoom calls and such. I miss the face to face interaction we used to have.
It has been hard, knowing I can't meet any of them for a long time. We still have over 2 months left in quarantine, and I am already tired of it. Online school may sound fun, but trust me, sitting at a desk for extended amounts of time is a pain in the butt (quite literally). I don't know how people who have desk jobs do it, but if there is one thing I have learned from this experience, it is that sitting in one chair is not very fun.
My screen time has greatly increased after this switch happened, and I now spent almost 5 hours on my phone and 6 hours on my laptop. In addition to my screen time, my body fat has also vastly increased. Yes, I am becoming more unfit every day.
But honestly, there are positive sides to this change too. The time I spend with my family has gone up so much and talking to my parents has resulted in the disclosure of many embarrassing childhood memories they have. I have started to enjoy the tiniest things in life, and have started to realize there is so much to do that we never get time for. In some ways, this change of lifestyle has been a blessing in disguise. Online school seems to be working until now, my life has improved, and my connection to my parents has skyrocketed.
I don't know how this is going to end. But for now, I am simply going to take it one hour at a time, one zoom call at a time. One day, when this is all over, we will all have something interesting to say to the next generation. We will all have our own unique experiences through this troubling time. As my literature teacher always signs his emails to us:
"May you all live in interesting times"