As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic changes the lives of Livermore High School students during the 2020-2021 school year, several students have formed opinions on distance learning and give examples of how it has changed their school experience so far.
A Livermore High School freshman who has chosen to remain anonymous reported that they do not like social distancing for several reasons, one of which is an increase in homework. They attribute their increase in stress and anxiety to a lack of sufficient class time and an increase in homework load. Currently, the student wants nothing more from school except for an end to remote learning.
“It sucks,” said Ryan Mina (10), a member of the Livermore High School Robotics Club about his view on distance learning. “Just the way they [teachers] are doing assignments is weird, it’s just a lot of learning curve,” Mina stated that he has experienced a few errors regarding how teachers assign homework. In addition, Mina finds that online instruction times are too short in proportion to the amount of work assigned but he added that the support periods might help those who need additional instruction.
Despite this, there are some positive things that Mina has found with distance learning. Mina commented that the schedule structure is beneficial, as it helps keep him informed on what class he needs to be in and when. “Distance learning the best substitute [for in-class learning] for the situation but it’s not better in any means,” Mina said but he noted that he doesn’t see how much could be changed to improve it.
Like many clubs this year, the future of the Robotics Club is unclear but Mina remains unfazed. “It’s not that much different, cause we’re not in school. It’s not like I’m missing out on anything I would be doing.” According to Mina, last year the FRC (FIRST Robotic Competition) was canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, and that currently not much else is known about the future of the club.
Miles Morris (10), a player on the Livermore High School volleyball team and former member of the LHS Robotics Club, has little knowledge of what his future sports season will look like. He’s asked around for more information but has found that no one has any information yet. Morris reported that he’s feeling disappointed, as this is the first sport that he’s found a passion for.
Morris has also experienced some problems with submitting assignments but has found the class schedule to be the most irksome thus far, finding that there is not enough time for each subject. One subject that he finds especially difficult in this period is math as “there are only an hour and a half [of instruction time] a week for each class and it’s really hard to learn something when you only have a little bit of time to do it.”
On the flip-side however, Morris said he likes the flexibility of the schedule because it gives him control over when he does homework, leaving him with more time to do what he enjoys.
Like many students, Hiya Patel (11) has been left uncertain about the future of her extracurriculars. An avid member of several student groups including Link Crew, the LHS Red Cross Club, and the badminton club Patel is concerned about the future of her groups. Patel said that she’s already witnessed a shutdown of the Badminton Club as “[current members] never come,” and that much of the student body is left unaware of the club’s existence. Patel wishes that she could return to school because “class has changed and it’s harder to keep up, and going back to school would make understanding [class material] much easier.”
In addition, Patel has noticed that school spirit has diminished which she believes would not be the case if learning was done in the traditional way, where more word is spread and more people are encouraged to participate. Patel said that school spirit participation is low as “not everyone’s on Instagram, and freshmen don’t even know we do online spirit events.”
Emma Wiedemeier (11) has noticed a similar pattern regarding her clubs that Patel reported she was witnessing. Weidemeier, a member of the Art Club, said that holding meetings has been “definitely something new for all of us.” Even through this, Wiedemeier has stayed positive amongst the uncertainty, and said, “most people have adjusted to the how things are now and that it’s exciting to see people think outside the box to do stuff; since we need to find a different way to do things than we would have normally done in person.”
Wiedemeier has adjusted to distance learning and has found her “class experience is pretty good overall. It’s not the same as being in person, but that’s okay. It’s safer to stay at home.”
Robert Hamm (12) is a member of the Livermore High School band and swim team. Due to distance learning, conducting band practices and performances needs to be done at home. Hamm said there is a process that students will use to simulate performances. “Everyone will record themselves at home then send it in. Then everyone’s parts will be combined through editing to make a whole ensemble.” Hamm finds this situation to be suboptimal in comparison to in-person performances but believes it is the best that the music program is doing the best that it can at the moment.
Despite the difficulties and obstacles he has to overcome when submitting assignments and the new way he will be participating in his band performances, Hamm has found that he likes the simplicity of distance learning. Hamm said that he likes that he “doesn’t have to get out of the house to go to class.”
While some students have been able to find a few aspects of distance learning they enjoy, for others distance learning has caused them nothing but problems.
A student in 12th grade who has chosen to remain anonymous has found that distance learning has negatively impacted their life. They expressed their disdain for it and said that having to learn from home has left them with, “less motivation, more anxiety, and worse grades.”
They have found their personal life at home interferes with their ability to concentrate in class. This is worsened by the short class times, which leaves them with little opportunity to receive help with their challenging AP and honors courses.
“I hate distance learning.” said the student. “If anything, we [LHS students] are smart enough to know how to keep ourselves clean of COVID. We should have the choice of having in-class sessions with social distancing and masks.“ Additionally, the student said that they would gladly return to school in a hazmat suit if they could “just have a senior year.”
Students of LHS are continuing to adjust to the distance learning curriculum and learning how to handle the obstacles that come with it. While there are some aspects they have found to be positive, the change hasn’t come without its fair share of challenges. Some students have grown to accept the new learning method and others are still left uneasy.
Distance learning has become the new normal and whether it’s loved or hated, at the moment, it doesn’t appear much will change soon. There is still some small piece of hope, however, as the school year is far from over. Students will have to play the waiting game and continue to do their best in the current circumstances.