Due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, many schools, including Judson, switched over to virtual learning. This however, has led more students to feel greater stress than in previous years.
The in-person school environment is one-of-a-kind, with different groups of students, their own unique background, and a different understanding of the world around them. School is more than just a place for education, but an environment where young adults can interact with people their age and gain skills unobtainable in any other environment.
In-person schooling gave students a place to understand difficult concepts that are harder to learn virtually. Online learning doesn’t provide that extra help some students need to understand a certain subject. Many students may not be able to find the courage to unmute their mic in a Zoom class full of 20 other students, or less, listening to every word being said. Additionally, students not wanting or unable to turn on their cameras can make the class feel less engaging. Asking for help can be nerve-racking, especially if you can’t see others’ reactions.
Unfortunately, this makes it harder for teachers to get a feel for the students struggling mentally or at home. This doesn’t help students, who are dealing with the stress of the pandemic, social and emotional changes, all while trying to deal with new content. Although the student can type their question in the chat box, the teacher may not be looking at the screen while teaching, so they may accidentally skip over the question leaving the students questions unanswered.
Additionally, students may already feel stressed because of the friends and involvement that they’re missing in-person. In previous years, you would see many students communicating with friends and making new ones along the way, and potentially meeting lifelong friends for the first time. Unfortunately, with virtual learning, students are missing out on physical interaction among friends, leaving many students feeling lonely, as many students used in-person school as an outlet to let their emotions free and say what they wanted in front of people that they wanted to see.
Although theoretically, learning from the comfort of your own home without having to roam the halls to class should allow students more time and freedom to complete their work. However, we are finding the opposite to be true. In practice, students’ motivation to work is low as they are expected to attend Zoom meetings, pay attention to the teachers’ lesson, and be released with little room to finish the assignment before moving onto the next class. Furthermore, some students are expected to complete tasks at home like chores or babysitting, leaving students feeling overwhelmed.
Not to mention that in this past year, starting with COVID-19, life completely being disrupted, political and racial turmoil could leave many people feeling stressed. All of this happened so fast in just a single year, it felt as though there was no time to rest. Combine that with some students working jobs, extracurricular activities, and seniors getting ready to go to college or the military, this could leave any student overwhelmed.
The world of virtual learning may have its ups and downs, but one can’t ignore the higher stress levels and higher failing rates in students ever since schools were sadly forced to switch from in-person to virtual. Throughout all of this, it is important for students to find time to relax and find an outlet, as stress can lead to many unhealthy problems such as anxiety or depression, which the world could use a lot less of right about now.
In spite of these truths, others may argue that, perhaps, online learning is a blessing in disguise for much of Judson High School’s student body.
Regarding a newly inherited online learning environment hitherto unimaginable as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many students have been given the opportunity to thrive in their own homes.
Firstly, institutionalized learning in public schools, especially Judson High School as a result of its vast student body, can be overwhelming to students who would prefer a quiet or controlled learning environment when attempting to process information. Being able to learn from home has created the very situation by which these students require in order to not only pass but excel.
Working from home also offers a level of comfortability and safety that in-person lessons simply cannot guarantee. This idea extends far beyond the threat of harm to one’s physical being but allows for a situation by which one’s stresses can be handled in a familiar environment (being their home) as stress in young adults caused by an excess school load is inevitable.
Familiarity and comfortability are but some fruit by which can be reaped through the new online opportunities within Judson High School. A major contender is a simple flexibility. Because Zoom meetings are non-mandatory, and recordings are posted in a timely manner, all students need only internet access before they may hold the ability to freely create a schedule for themselves regarding school work and classes. If a student had previously been balancing school work along with a job, Zoom recordings open up the world to them by which they may freely manipulate when and where the lessons are held and the work is done.
That being said, freedom is not without its drawbacks, as unmotivated students, or students who simply lack the ambition or resolve to maintain their responsibilities, will inevitably fail under this system as there is no institution to serve as their crutch. Under these conditions, an inevitable action will result in the ambitions thriving and the stagnant drowning in a seemingly endless workload by which began as undoubtedly manageable.
Regardless of this, the comfortability and flexibility that online learning has provided the student body with the ability for even the stagnant to recompense. Curves, waiving late fees, and fully accessible assignments at all times allow those who are struggling to begin anew.
The one thing this system has offered that, compared to the schooling in place prior, seems like an oasis is an unfettered freedom. All students have free access to their assignments, forging schedules, and the choice between independent or dependent learning. All have the ability to choose to pass or not, the freedom given to students is absolute, and the variable between failing and excelling is not a teacher or a workload, but pure resolve.
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