Graphics: JRC Vicky Shan
Advisor: Julie Yang
The unprecedented pandemic has transformed our life as we know it. Students of all ages had transitioned to a brand new form of education - distance learning. The prospect of students returning to classes in school seems unlikely as new COVID cases are on the rise for two straight months over the county and in Maryland.
The Spring online learning was disappointing to many in our community. How do we fair this time around in Fall? Any lessons for Spring? CAPA-JRC reporters interviewed students and parents across the county in elementary, middle and high schools. Let’s hear what they say.
Good things about online school
Quite a number of students gave very positive reasons favoring online schools.
Henry, 5th grade, Ritchie Park Elementary School
“I prefer online school. I am more comfortable at home and I can focus better this way. “
Allison - Junior at Thomas S. Wootton High School
"I prefer remote learning because it gives me a lot more flexibility and there’s a lot more independent learning time. I especially like having classes every two days as opposed to every day because it gives me more time to complete assignments"
Student X, 10th, Winston Churchill High School
The biggest advantages of remote learning is its flexibility. It provides me the opportunities to work at my own pace and I can go back to any lessons by watching online recordings. There are more accessible and convenient resources for all the students to do extracurriculars. The huge increase in virtual events and online meetings had greatly diminished the geographic barriers for students to keep engaged in the community and even with the world.
A freshman from Quince Orchard High School
"I prefer remote learning," Student A said when asked about their preferences. "There's a lot more independence, and everything is electronic, which helps with organizing assignments, as well as complete assignments since I prefer typing the assignments over handwriting them."
Samuel, 2nd grade, Candlewood Elementary School
“Online school is less work, longer lunch break and less time in school!”
Bad things about online school
Astawa - Senior at Thomas S. Wootton High School
"I prefer in-person learning because there are fewer distractions. My sister is 5 years old and is downstairs; usually when I listen to my biology lecture, my psychology lecture, I can hear her say the ABC’s really loudly and it’s hard to multitask."
A freshman from Thomas S. Wootton High School
"Online learning takes the interaction out of the school day. There aren't many chances to talk with my peers, and when we're put into breakout rooms, you're always staring at a black screen with white names."
“Sometimes, the teacher wants to show a video playing on their screen, and it just looks low quality, the audio cuts out a lot. Additionally, the teachers are still adjusting, so most of the class time is wasted on trying to figure out solutions to these issues."
Change of Social Life
Catherine, 7th grade, Eastern Middle School
Catherine said that her social life has moved “pretty much entirely” online as well following quarantine and online school. “I video call with friends on hangouts, or I text them for help on homework.” This form of interaction differs drastically from the past, where friends met with each other face-to-face and talked straight to one another.
Kylie, Robert Frost Middle School
It is harder to make friends online because you can’t talk to them,” Zhang said. “I also miss my friends, and seeing them online is nice but it would be better if I could see them in person.”
Lauren, 9th grade, Churchill High School
“I used to play volleyball, but I quit because it was complicated to do with Covid around. I’m still in boy scouts, but our meetings are all online. Theater is shut down/on hold because of Covid so I can’t really do much with it right now.”
Growth in the Pandemic
Lauren - High school freshman
"I’ve always had a really bad procrastination issue and I can’t really pay attention. I used to spend more time distracted on my phone or reading than listening in class. I’ve learned to not have my phone with me and follow along from the materials in MCPS classroom."
Student X, 10th grade, Churchill High School
The biggest takeaway she had regarding distance learning is about time management. “It is essential to keep track of all my deadlines since no one is reminding me to turn in the assignments on time, I have to do it all by myself.”
Constructive Criticism (parent)
Chen, a middle school parent.
“I think that there can be more forms of teaching,” said Chen. “Currently, most of the teaching takes place through teacher-made presentations. I think that teachers can also try other learning formats, such as short videos and Zoom discussions.”
2 Elementary School Parent
Parent A thinks MCPS should split students into groups based on their academic abilities. This way, lots of students can better use their time to learn new skills. She believes that this will relieve parents' burdens of urging their children to concentrate during class.
Parent B thinks students need more breaks from staring at their screens. Specifically, he recommends that there be a five-minute break for every twenty minutes of class. He feels that MCPS does not value students' health and vision enough.
Two student suggestions:
"I'd really like longer due dates and deadlines because there really isn't much time in class to complete all the work we need to get through. "
"I'd want [a better way to rewatch the meetings]. The recordings are hard to find for most of my classes, and when I need to look at previous recordings for my assignments, they're all deleted."