Maggie Klaers

PCP: Distance vs. in-person learning

A rise in cases has prompted discussion at Park over the most beneficial learning method for students

January 23, 2022

In-person impairs learning

In the past few weeks since we’ve been back from winter break, there have been several factors obstructing students’ ability to learn. Omicron is running rampant through the school, not just taking out students but teachers as well. In these past weeks, I have seen cloth and paper masks replaced with N95s, KN95s and KN94s. However, although these stronger masks are keeping more students safe, it is not enough for us to just be in the building, we need to be able to learn as well. 

The extreme lack of teachers is completely diminishing our ability to learn at school. Since we have been back from break, I have only had two teachers out, but I have many classmates who have had many more teachers absent. When these teachers are gone, sometimes we are given a substitute who may or may not know what they’re doing and typically just tells us that we should check on Schoology, but it doesn’t ensure that work is being done and assignments are understood. Other times, we are put in the auditorium with around six other classes who are also missing their teacher. In this circumstance, we are told to check in for attendance and then there are no enforcements to do work. Additionally, this is a huge COVID-19 risk, as there tends to be over 100 students in the auditorium at a given time with no social distancing.

With this, I have spoken to several of the teachers who have been out with COVID and they’ve all said that they feel fine, but just can’t come in. This further shows that distance learning would be a great asset to our school right now since at least we can learn over Zoom. We could follow in the footsteps of Minneapolis, Armstrong, Hopkins, Maple Grove, and more high schools that have already switched to learning from home. Distance learning doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, but a few weeks would give everybody time to re-adjust and for more people to get their booster shots whilst students can continue to learn and teachers can continue to teach.

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In-person learning increases productivity

Throughout the last two years of this pandemic, we have seen it all. From distance learning to social distancing and wearing masks in school, this generation of students has had anything but a normal educational experience. I believe that by continuing in-person learning, students will be more productive and get the most out of their school day.

After a year of distance learning, I felt like I hadn’t been taught anything. Trying to learn over Zoom at home was exhausting. Students felt that since we were distant and grades didn’t matter and would sleep through classes or not log on at all. Many students also lacked motivation for doing their school work, leading to missing assignments piling up. While in distance learning, I was isolated from not only getting the in-person help I needed to thrive, but my social life as well. I missed seeing people every day and lost a lot of connections that would’ve been maintained if I were at school. 

Now that we are back in-person learning, and have been since the start of the school year, I feel that my productivity has gone way up compared to last year. I have been able to participate in class without feeling awkward because I was the only one talking or asking questions on Zoom. My grades have gone up and I have been getting my assignments in on time. Other peers that I have talked to feel as if they are learning more than they did last year as well. I find that I am paying more attention and really absorbing the content when I am right there in the classroom, face to face with the teacher, rather than at home over a screen. 

With cases of COVID-19 on the rise, it is a risk to be learning in-person. According to the CDC, the Omicron variant is more transmissible than the original SARS-CoV-2 variant. This puts students at risk of contracting the virus while at school. With that being said, precautions have been put in place to keep students safe. Everyone in the building is required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status. Students are asked to scan QR codes before sitting down to eat lunch. Anyone who is feeling symptoms of COVID-19 is supposed to stay home. With teachers getting sick as well, some may think that it would be more beneficial to go online for some time. Many teachers have posted the lesson plans or a video lesson for the day(s) they are out for. Students are expected to do the work in class time, and this leads to productivity although their instructor is not there. 

While other districts transition to distance learning for the next two or more weeks, continuing to learn in-person will generate more productivity and success within students. 

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