Photo provided by Fiona Chen.
COVID-19 has forced schools to transition from in person instruction to online learning. This means student life has changed dramatically. Sports, extracurriculars, and academic help are either canceled or limited. A few weeks into quarantine, I’ve heard so many accounts of students wishing to go back, but I can’t help remembering the complaints students had before the transition. I feel as though people are taking online classes for granted and should acknowledge the positives of online learning.
Before quarantine, people complained about teachers not teaching well, being tired in class, rushing to do classwork, spending too much time doing pointless assignments, barely having enough time to eat, and being uncomfortable with classmates. Asynchronous time exists to do in-class work, but students have also used this time to catch up with their homework and eat whenever, which is more than we got with the twenty-something minutes of Husky Period during a normal school year. Not only that, but most bullying is virtually impossible since the bullies have no way to physically harm you. Although cyberbullying is still an issue, students won’t have to face their bully in person after seeing what happened online, and can disconnect from social media or block them.
I’ve reached out to a couple of students to see their opinions about online learning. Alvina Zhan, a Washington High School senior, summed up most students’ feelings when she said, “Honestly, I just miss everyone: my teachers, my friends, even the lunch ladies and janitors. It’s crazy how often we take things for granted. I miss walking with friends and scrambling to get to class on time, and I miss being able to engage in small talk with teachers.”.
It’s clear we all miss our friends and nothing can replace in person connection; however, with Zoom classrooms, friends are almost always available online to communicate with and are no longer separated by the constraints of physical classes in different locations around campus. Mihir Phadke, another senior, feels that “it was much easier to ask teachers questions in person since you could ask them at any time during class or after class rather than having to wait until office hours.” I find the opposite to be true in my case, as my teachers allow questions during our Zoom classes as well as during asynchronous periods and office hours. The teaching in Zoom classrooms will never replace physical classrooms, but I think it’s a close replacement and has some very positive benefits.
Many students, including the very ones that say they don’t like online learning, agree with me on some of these points. “[Online learning] lets me wake up later as I don’t have to actually travel to school,” Nathan Liu, a Washington High sophomore explained. People who live farther from campus and don’t have the luxury of their parents driving them to school might have to wake up very early or take the bus, which can be unreliable, making them late to school. During distance learning, this issue is irrelevant. The same idea applies for how these students get home from school during in person learning: the bus is also inconsistent in arriving after school (it sometimes doesn’t come at all) and people that do need to use the bus have to limit themselves from going to certain extracurriculars which require after school meetings. It also takes money to drive to and from school, and walking or biking is exhausting. As a result of online school, students no longer need to worry about transportation to and from campus, leaving them with more time to sleep. Additionally, the implementation of asynchronous time gives students the opportunity to finish their homework sooner, rather than sit in a classroom, be forced to listen to the teacher, and finally do all the work at home like they would during a normal school year.
Along with the transition to online school, extracurriculars are gone and clubs are on Zoom. It is unfortunate, really, but clubs can still teach and communicate with each other. A lot of clubs also weren’t taken seriously in the first place, so it’s not really a change to move online. Clubs like Interact or Key Club host large meetings a few times a month, and the officers usually discuss with each other online beforehand. Sadly, online classes can’t compensate for sports and band, so my condolences on that.
Many students have noted that because of distance learning, we actually have time for our interests; we can develop ourselves to be more creative and happier students. Mihir Phadke and another senior, Dylan Huang, have been coding more, Alvina Zhan has more time to read, and I myself have been producing more artwork. Online learning may deprive us of physical connection, but it gives us more time for ourselves, to hone our interests and learn more about the outside world. I hope people learn to appreciate the extra time online learning gives them, even when we go back to school in person.
Sandra Than is currently a senior at Washington High School. She was born in San Francisco but has lived in Fremont for most of her life. This is her first time writing for the paper, but she’s very excited to be a part of it. Arts and gaming is what she’s most interested in covering. As expected, Sandra herself indulges in painting and digital art both in school and outside. Through journalism, Sandra hopes to improve her writing skills and get to know more about relevant and important news.