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Zoom High School: Is it Right For You?

Despite being in the midst of a pandemic, many students have decided to continue their studies back in class, right where they left it in early March, at least for part of the time. As schools open, masks, sanitizer, and social distancing have become the new normal, along with immense safety precautions taken by custodial staff and teachers. Students and teachers chose this hybrid model of education because many benefits come with in-class learning. Physically being in the classroom opens up room for more active participation and discussions amongst students and their instructors. Students find making connections with other students and instructors much easier and more attainable when they are in the same space, rather than virtually. The removal of most distractions, since students are supervised by instructors, encourages deeper engagement in work for most of the day.


Schools encourage frequent sanitation amongst students, especially when exiting and entering the school, along with masks and face shields. (Vancouver Sun)


There are downsides to in-person learning, though. Allowing any number of students to congregate may pose a safety concern, despite hygiene measures taken, since they are required to leave their homes. Teachers and board members are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of all involved, but what the higher-ups cannot control are the activities of students outside of school. Teachers have no say whether or not students are attending get-togethers, they have no way of controlling a student’s social circle. A student could only come in close contact with their family members, but one of their family members may not be taking proper isolation measures, therefore putting not only their family members, but anybody who their family members come into contact with at risk. Transportation to and from school may also be an issue for some students, especially those who are choosing not to use public transit or taxi services due to health concerns for themselves or their family. Not all parents are able to drive their children to school, and not all families have access to a personal vehicle, what are these students to do other than use public transit, which has proven to be not the safest way to commute during these trying times. Not to mention, commuting to school takes up time, especially if buses or trains are running on reduced schedules. Since students are limited to their desks for most of the day, there is more sedentary time at school, which contradicts the reason students chose to return to school in the first place.


In-person learning allows for students to have face-to-face (6 feet-apart) interactions with others, and can prove to be more engaging for class discussions and activities. However, it may pose a risk for students, since they do need to leave their homes and go into public spaces. If you decide to attend in-person classes, make sure to take all the necessary safety precautions, such as wearing a mask, watching your hands frequently, maintaining a safe distance from anyone not in your bubble, and avoid touching surfaces without disinfecting them.


This photo shows how a safe drop-off has been organized for parents at an elementary school in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia (CBC News)


Technology has transformed the way content can be consumed. We live in a world of any time, any place. So naturally when it comes to education, online learning has its share of benefits. Online learning allows for more flexibility, based on a student’s schedule. With sports, jobs, volunteering, and extracurriculars, teenagers are exceptionally  busy people. Having the freedom to choose when they work and study can help with time management, increase productivity, and minimize the need for transportation to physical locations. The physical health risks of online learning are exponentially lesser than that of in-person school, seeing as students do not need to interact with anyone outside their household. This is especially beneficial to students who are immunocompromised, or have family members who are vulnerable. 


With more independence  comes more responsibility. Online school increases a need for accountability and personal responsibility, since instructors may not be able to offer help and check on work during the exact times a student requires their services. Lacking face-to-face interaction, may cause difficulty with networking and connecting with others. Many kids are extroverts and enjoy school because that is where they are able to be their best. Students assume leadership roles within their school communities and not being able to physically attend their clubs, meetings, or assemblies could take a toll on a students mental health. While many student-run organizations are still up and running virtually, there is a significant difference in participation and collaboration when events are taken online. That being said, an increase in screen time can be hard and detrimental on the eyes and brain. Being on the computer for extended periods of time can cause eyes to become irritated and tired, therefore decreasing a student’s academic performance.


Image Courtesy of Science Magazine


Online learning allows for more flexibility in a student’s learning habits and schedule, and eliminates the need for transportation and the risk of contact with others. However, it creates a huge increase in screen time for students, and may limit the amount of engagement and interaction between the student and the rest of their class and instructor(s). If you do decide to choose online classes, make sure to take frequent screen-less breaks to rest your eyes, engage as much through online discussion platforms and in video-calls, and also use online learning and networking tools to your advantage to connect with others.


In the end, choosing either going to school online or in-person depends on the needs and comforts of each individual. It’s important to keep in mind the differences between the two styles of learning, and make an educated decision by taking into account all factors that affect you and your learning style. 


Need some help with productivity and getting back in the school schedule? Make sure to check our other articles about advice on such topics by checking out our “Advice/Tips” category!


References


Ip, S. (2020, July 21). COVID-19: B.C. most supportive of 'hybrid school week,' masks on students. Retrieved from

https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/covid-19-bc-most-supportive-of-hybrid-school-week-masks-on-students


Jennifer Couzin-Frankel Mar. 10, 2., Rasha AridiSep. 11, 2., Rebekah Tuchscherer Sep. 4, 2., Jocelyn KaiserAug. 28, 2., Lucy HicksAug. 28, 2., & Rebekah Tuchscherer Aug. 26, 2. (2020, March 26). Does closing schools slow the spread of coronavirus? Past outbreaks provide clues. Retrieved from https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/03/does-closing-schools-slow-spread-novel-coronavirus


Mi'kmaw communities in Cape Breton using hybrid teaching model for COVID-19 | CBC News. (2020, September 09). Retrieved from

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/cape-breton-nova-scotia-back-to-school-covid-19-1.5717098


Online vs. In-Person Classes. (2019, May 16). Retrieved from http://www.ecollegetimes.com/online-vs-in-person-classes#:~:text=In-person courses hold the,and alert during class time.&text=“Online classes offer more efficient,online is a great option.”

https://mycollegeguide.org/blog/2017/05/online-classes-vs-traditional-classes/


Featured image is courtesy of Wix



Article Author: Asima Hudani, Maria Giroux

Article Editor: Edie Whittington

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