If you asked me last spring whether I would ever choose to attend school virtually, I would have given a clear and definitive no. I thought that there was no way I could make remote learning work. My academics were my first priority, and I did not think that staying online would be the best idea for my junior year. It is a critical year for me, as my grades now count more than ever since I’m trying to get into college. Also, from the day we were sent home in March, I missed my friends and had also been looking forward to the day that I could go back and experience the high school in person. I enjoyed school, and I was very excited to see my friends and teachers again. However, over the last several months my perspective has changed, and I have now made the choice to partake in remote learning and not return to school for the time being.
First, and most important, there was the issue of health and safety. Since many of my teachers wouldn’t have been in school anyway, a lot of my classes would’ve taken place while sitting in Schluntz Gym. For those classes, I would have the same experience “in person” as I would remote. No matter where I was, I would be sitting on a Zoom, and if I was learning in the same type of way, why put myself at risk? There are so many people in the building, and although I am sure that most people are being safe and doing the best they can, I felt safer being in my own home with less exposure. For me, it just was not worth it.
Secondly, there are all the logistical benefits of working from home. I had gotten into a routine, and although going to school would have been fun, I didn’t think that the hybrid model would last long. I thought it would be better for me just to stay online so I didn’t have to worry about switching back to being remote again, if that were to be the case. We were also coming up to the winter, and there was to be a possible rise in cases, which implied the closings of many schools across the country. Shifting to a hybrid learning model would be a huge change in my new normal schedule and daily life. I also would have had many issues with timing and rides. Living about a 15 minute car ride from the school, with no license, two working parents, and no options for public transportation, it would have been a daily struggle for me to find a ride every morning. In addition, the complicated schedule with different end times, free blocks, and in person days would have made driving a lot more stressful. To top it off, I am definitely not a morning person, and I had become comfortable with my routine of rolling out of bed and attending class in pajama pants!
As teachers were more prepared for remote teaching than they had been in the spring, I found that classes were organized more like the way they would have been if we were in person. In the spring, the switch to remote learning was so sudden and new, the focus was primarily on how to navigate the technology and stay connected with classes. Now, it is essentially the exact same work we would be doing in person, with a similar workload, new material, and letter grades. If my grades were struggling when it was time to make the decision, and I needed more in person help, I would have gone back. I didn’t think that I would succeed with learning online, but so far, it had been, and still is, working for me, so I didn’t feel the need to change that. It felt pretty close to normal, aside from the fact that I was sitting in my basement.
Lastly, I think one of the biggest reasons that many people wanted to go the hybrid model was to get out of their houses and connect with people. I was lucky enough to be able to have my swim season, and that got me out of the house at least once a day. I was able to see my friends and have somewhat normal interactions at the pool, and it made those two months feel more like pre-COVID life. Obviously, there were a ton of safety guidelines that the pool had given us, such as a maximum number of swimmers in the pool, restrictions on the locker room, and a new system for entering and exiting the building. Although the season was shorter than usual, seeing my teammates every day provided the social interactions I needed, even if it was only the top halves of their faces!
So, while I realize this is not the right choice for everyone, I am happy with my decision to stay all remote. Had I lived closer to school, been struggling with my grades, or not been a part of a sports team, my decision may have been different. For now, Zoom classes are working for me.