The Oracle and Echo staff share their thoughts on this schools year’s approach to virtual learning thus far.
Saaniah Hardy: This school year started off differently; we didn’t go back face-to-face. I personally am a better learner online then in person anyway, so I had no problem with being virtual. We just recently switched our schedule because some students are choosing to go to back to school face-to-face on day a week now., with a two-day-a-week option coming up. The change between class times and when we go to our class has me feeling a bit mixed up.
I liked the first schedule we had with our check-ins on Fridays because by Friday I normally had all my work for the week done and turned in, which gave me the rest of the day Friday and the weekend off to do other personal things. With the new schedule, we have classes on Friday which gives me end-of-the-week work, and if I don’t finish, it becomes weekend work. I’ve been trying to stick to a schedule of turning my work in a day ahead of time, but with these schedules being adjusted, it’s been getting harder for me to keep up with the changes and my schoolwork.
Another thing I didn’t like were the breaks between each class. They’re annoying to me; I’d rather just go to all my classes back-to-back, but now since students are going back to the building, I see that we need that extra time between classes for them to get to class safely. When everyone was virtual, it was wasted time, and the lunch could have been longer.
Lunch is another thing I didn’t like. When we actually go to school, lunch is normally prepared already while we are in classes so the lunch periods can be 30 minutes. At home, however, most of us have to cook a meal because something isn’t made already, so that takes up 20 minutes cooking and leaves 10 minutes to use the restroom and eat before the next class. Most days I just made lunch for my brother during that time and waited until after school to eat my first meal of the day.
Grading to me is perfectly fine. I turn in the homework for everything that isn’t going to affect my grade, and I like that summatives are the only thing currently affecting our grade. Teachers give us a lot of homework or work that doesn’t count towards our grade — for seniors I know that is something that’s stressful because along with work ,we must worry about our senior information and applying to colleges, scholarships, and taking the SAT or ACT since they were canceled at the end of last year. I thought senior year was supposed to be an easy year because we had to focus a lot of our time on our lives after high school, but it seems as though teachers don’t care that we have to apply to colleges and give us work that takes up our whole day, this leaving no time for us to do anything for college.
Will Hopkins: Due to unfortunate circumstances, the 2020 school year at North Springs has started just as the last one ended – virtually. Although the plan is to eventually return to the halls of the Spartans, for now we are reserved to the halls of our own homes. There are some new changes, though. As opposed to having each class once a week like last year, this year each class is held twice a week, making for longer virtual days. I do not like this change because I liked being able to focus on just one or two classes each day of the week last year, but at least we do not have a full schedule every day! I am also not a big fan of having to check in to each class for just 15 minutes on Wednesdays (which then was switched to Fridays), but it is better than having a full schedule. Overall, virtual has its pros and cons. It is nice being done with the day rather early and being able to attend class in bed, but it is unfortunate not being able to interact with classmates in teachers in a traditional school environment.
I am no principal, and I have no powerful position in the Fulton County school system, but if I did, there may be some changes I’d make to North Springs’ schedule. First of all, I would eliminate check-in days as a whole. Having a three-day weekend every weekend would be wonderful. Some other schools, such as Walton (which has no school on Wednesdays) have classes only four day weeks, and I think the best usage of an extra off day would definitely be on Fridays. If this does not happen, then more teachers should be like Mr. Throne and allow you to email into the class instead of joining the live stream because most of the time on Fridays no content is delivered. The most important thing is that North Springs does not return to traditional school too soon. As difficult as it is, the longer we wait to return to campus may increase our chances of actually staying in the classrooms. In the situation of return, it will really come down to the actions of the faculty and learners outside of school hours that will determine our fate for the 2021 school year.
Veronica Kogan: This virtual start to the school year has been…colorful. It’s definitely a step up from last semester—a class schedule to keep students on track, more meetings every week, and longer ones, too. There’re also those precious 15-minute breaks that give me enough time to revive my brain cells with CPR before the next hour and twenty minutes of class, an emergency procedure for when I have physics and pre-calculus one after the other. Another saving grace is the years and years of time I have after school now that I don’t have to drive home—until I suddenly catch a glimpse of my piano staring death lasers into my soul because I haven’t practiced for four hours yet. And the sleep….aaah, the sleep.
But the good times have an evil arch nemesis. It has many names, just like the Devil. Some call it cabin fever, others call it loneliness, but the most terrifying name of all is the amount of time we have for lunch. 30 minutes of lunch gives me just enough time to chop up the vegetables, oven-roast the meat, and hand over the final product to my dad because I have class in 30 seconds. Staying productive without any physical place to go to is another triumph of the will. Whenever the rare occasion occurs that I have the same productivity as before the pandemic, my family claps and cheers and celebrates with three hours of TV watching—who cares about the three essays and four tests I have tomorrow? I’ll be productive again next month!
Isaac Linnen: The school year starting virtual has been fine so far. I’m not the biggest fan of virtual learning; I feel it is slightly less organized than in-person classes are. I constantly have connectivity issues nearly every day, but when Teams (our online learning platform) does finally work and pulls up everything I need, class is nearly a breeze. Although it is somewhat tiring to sit down for an hour and a half, everything is manageable. All things considered, it is infinitely better than virtual learning last year. It now allows for more comprehensive learning plans and everyone overall seems more prepared.
I wouldn’t change about much URL. I would say that there should be some more time, say five minutes, for the lunch period and between each class. There are times I do find myself rushing to eat food before class starts, so some extra time for lunch would be great. I feel that there should be some cool-down time between classes that allows students to prepare any materials or work required for the next class. This could even allow students to review any work or notes. Besides that, I believe our current URL schedule has been a positive thing.
Emily Papleaux: I feel like its not entirely fair to compare online learning with physical learning, given the circumstances. Virtual learning has its perks, like being able to do regular school in the comfort of your own home. However, teachers still do not know whether your students can just go to a class but sit on their phones all day. There are ways to solve this, like putting cameras or mics on.
There are, of course, some perks to regular learning. Lessons can be less confusing when you are physically in a learning environment with your teachers and peers. So many things can be lost in translation virtually by emails, or with homework. But then again, with “real-life” learning, we also wake up and must get ready to be seen in public. Its not as forgiving as a virtual school morning routine.
ZaRae Ridley: There are many pros and cons for virtual school.
The pros are you can keep up with your work easily. You can’t lose your work and can’t use the excuse that you can’t find it. I also like how we can work from home and be comfortable while working.
The cons are you can’t see your teachers and classmates. It also gets tiring being on a computer for long periods of time. Also, many people have technical issues when it comes to their devices. I was one of those people, and it took a while to get resolved. I also hate the fact that classes are longer. Other than that, virtual school is pretty cool.
Courtney Suber: Online school has definitely thrown students for a loop. It seems as if the majority of students preach how online school is better, but I definitely disagree. While online school for sure has its pros, I can list copious amounts of flaws.
Throughout our schooling careers, kids of the 21st century have been conditioned to sustain in-person school. This quick and significant change to virtual can cause students to feel lost or fall behind. I personally have been a victim of this, and even though we’ve been in online school overall for nearly four months, I have a hard time keeping up with work and staying attentive in class. The human mind is not built to stare at blue light for long periods of time of learning, and being forced to sit at a computer screen for nearly eight hours a day can breed distraction.
I would like to see change in the amount of time we’re in class for. Starting at a screen for one hour and thirty minutes with no breaks is hard to maintain. I often find myself scrolling through my phone or looking through the teams of other classes when I feel I’m getting distracted. If these changes were to be made, I feel as if I would be more optimistic towards the idea of online school. However, compared to the second semester of my sophomore year, online school is a lot more organized. This makes it easier to keep up with work and work around my own clock.