Courtney Fitzgerald also contributed to this article.

Disclaimer: This project was done at the beginning of January, when cases were at their highest. Even though the numbers have dropped since then, the writing in this article is worth thinking about in case there are future outbreaks.

PRO: Why Schools Should Return to Remote Learning

by Krishany Marius

The 2020-2021 school year had a huge impact on students all around the world. Not only on students, but it also made an impact on educators. It introduced people to a whole new level of learning: remotely and from home. 

For people who are homeschooled or work from home, the changes may not have been  new to them because they are used to it. Remote learning was something that was not easy for many people, though it did help others in different ways. 

This goes into my point on why we should go back into remote learning, with COVID-19 on the rise and cases increasing day by day, and new variants finding their way into human bodies. It is only better for governors and school boards to shut down schools so that we can stay safe and practice social distancing because close contact will not make matters any better.

Going remotely will also make people less worried about if they are sick or not, as students touch everything and have germs flying around us at all times. When it comes to interacting with other students, it may be hard for many people and we are all in high school and dealing with different stages in our lives. That said, social anxiety could be one of them. 

Students can also become more confident when it comes to online interactions rather than in-person because it sets the idea that you are not constantly thinking about the sentence you’re about to tell or practice it before you go and interact with someone. It is never easy in an environment where you feel a lot of pressure on yourself, and I believe online learning helps with it. 

Another pro to online learning is that you are able to work at your own pace, whether it is an assignment you need done, or a lesson you are not understanding. For example, in 90-minute classes, it is hard to retain what you learned. Remote learning allows you to utilize online resources and is more flexible when it comes to due dates.

Remote classes do not feel rushed, it will become a space where you are not stressed because you are already in your house and comfortable in your environment.

We are teens in stages where we are going to become adults and with all the pressure put on us, we have a lot to handle all at once, and that includes bringing the supplies we need for school. It can also result in forgetting the supplies that you need for school and not being able to have the resources you need throughout the school day. 

Now if we went back to remote learning, we would not be able to be worried about this because we would have the opportunity to have everything we need right in front of us. 

As the world continues to evolve and people become open to new things, technology is ever-expanding. Technology has given people the ability to do many things, and have many opportunities because of the resources that are available for the time being. 

We teenagers, adults and kids use electronic devices in our daily lives and that can be something taken to its best advantage, whether it is helping someone who is not so strong in it or being more proficient in it. 

Remote learning can be so amazing for us students. In the long run, we as students can build better time management skills and can adapt to multi-tasking when many assignments are to be due. It also creates an environment where they can see deadlines that need to be met more clearly. 

Though online school can be a challenge for many students, there can also be many benefits to it. Being safe is the best option right now, instead of students getting constantly sick and being in close contact with one another. Ultimately, remote learning encourages practicing social distancing and trying to keep one another safe. 

CON: Why We Should Remain In-Person

by Courtney Fitzgerald

March 12th, 2020. A date that will forever live in every student’s mind. This was the date all our dreams of being homeschooled came true. Only, it was a dream for about two minutes. Then it became a nightmare. 

When we first began remote learning, it was a completely different system than what we got used to in 2021. 2020’s remote system of learning was simply an optional Google Meet once a week and one assignment per class due at the end of the week. This diminished the drive students had to do their school work. It taught them that class was optional and that less work was sufficient. That all changed when we remained remote for the 2020-2021 school year. 

After having optional classes and one assignment per class, they threw us right back into a “steady” learning environment where we had the same three classes every other day, began classes at eight in the morning and some classes even having mandatory speaking and visual requirements (i.e; requiring cameras to be on, or students to speak during the class). The learning environment was anything but steady. With every day came a new uncertainty for both students and teachers. 

Questions like “When will we be back in school?,” “How am I going to be graded?” and probably the biggest question for the Class of 2021 was “What does this mean for me and college applications?” These questions remained unanswered for the majority of the school year. The answer was more often than not “We’re taking it day by day.” Students grew frustrated and disinterested in learning. 

On top of everything, internet connectivity was the most unreliable resource for students. With the majority of residents in Malden all attempting to access the internet through one source or another, there tended to be a lot of connectivity issues when it came to trying to be in the class on the Google Meet and simultaneously opening the assignment you are meant to be doing. While teachers understood this, it was still frustrating to the students who felt as though they had fallen behind due to their internet connection. 

Being in school is a way to provide students with structure and discipline. Having to wake up in the morning and leave their house to go to school teaches the student to discipline themselves into a routine. They go through the motions day after day being in school and get them prepared for a life outside of high school. 

At home, all that was lost. Students woke up, most of the time late for their first class, and signed on. The good ones, they paid attention. But the majority of students, they signed on and went back to sleep, left their microphones and cameras off and just let the class go on until eventually they got kicked out at the end. 

While it may cause stress and anxiety, being back in school and potentially contracting the dreaded disease, there are many benefits to learning in person. With students back in the school, teachers are seeming to be less “depressed” or inexpressive as they were when we were remote. Teachers who taught through a screen received little to no effort back from students, often being met with Google icons and black screens and hardly ever a verbal response. Now with the students in front of them, while the students may not be showing any more enthusiasm than previous years, the teachers can be seen having more of a connection with the students in the room. 

Students in the building also have the opportunities to build more connections with their peers and have more access to help from their teachers. While being online, it was difficult for teachers to give the help they would have been able to give if the student had been in the classroom. Now that students are in-person, teachers are able to meet one-on-one with the students and actually see where a student may be having problems. 

Absences throughout schools are a big talk right now, but they are no different from the previous years. Students’ lack of enthusiasm towards school has nothing to do with it. Whether they are in-person or completely online or even a little bit of both, the student will always be dissatisfied with school. 

There will always be something that “will never be used again,” or that is “completely irrelevant” to what comes after high school. We’ve all said it at least once in our school careers and it probably wasn’t the first time we’ve said it and it most likely will not be the last. Some absences have been due to Covid, and while that is a serious risk being back in the classroom and the building, the benefits that come with being back in school make it worth the risk. 

So yes, there is an argument to be made that students should be remote. But the bigger argument is that they should remain in the building. The support from the teachers as well as their peers is a benefit that trumps the fears. The students become more engaged when they are physically in the classroom and they have the tools they need to succeed. Wifi might be slow, but that was always an issue. Students are being set up with the skills they need to succeed outside the school. When the students were outside the classroom, tools were there but initiative to access them was lacking. As the students get accustomed to school life, they are set up better for future success.

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