Students adjust to a new learning environment


Photo used with permission of Isabell Lee

Sophomore Isabell Lee attends her online class outdoors on Oct. 1.

Shreya Baskaran, Staff Writer

Signing on to Blackboard Collaborate at 8:10 a.m. students prepare to attend school through their screens for the next six and a half hours. Despite having prior experience with online learning, students continue to face challenges. 

For some, one of the biggest downsides of virtual school is the lack of face-to-face interaction with classmates and teachers.

“It’s really tough not being able to hang out with as many friends, but I always make time to FaceTime them and catch up,” junior Sheona Jerin said.

Virtual learning has limited student interaction due to the cancellation of sports practices and games, club meetings, theater activities and the homecoming dance.

“Online school has made it harder to socialize since a lot of my social interactions came from school and sports,” Huffman said. “Now, between online class and homework, it’s hard to make time to hang out with friends.”

Being required to wake up early and attend classes for seven hours with hardly any breaks has been a concern voiced by many students, as they often get distracted and lose track of assignments.

“I have found online school [make it] a lot harder to stay motivated and on top of assignments,” sophomore Sara Huffman said. “We are on our computers for most of the day which can be pretty mentally draining.”

Classes are shorter by 10 minutes and transitions between classes have extended by 10 minutes. This allows some additional time for students to unwind, interact with teachers or take care of their mental health.

“I think that I am doing really well with management right now,” sophomore Isabell Lee said. “Some benefits are a longer lunch where I can also eat healthier, get more fresh air between classes or during class while sitting outside and be in a more comfortable and familiar learning place.”

For some students, the transition has become easy due to the peacefulness and coziness of their home. For others, finding a quiet environment to work can be difficult.

“I have a sister who is also currently taking her classes online,” Jerin said. “so finding a private spot at home to stay focused has been a little difficult.”

FCPS has been considering the possibility of bringing students back to school by the second semester with the necessary precautions including limiting extracurriculars, social distancing and splitting students between remote learning and in-person instruction. Although this gives students a choice, it could put them at risk, possibly exposing them to the coronavirus.

“I feel more comfortable in online school, but I definitely miss that interaction with teachers and students,” Lee said.