Hybrid learning challenges cause students to switch to remote school


Graphic by Alejandro Gonzalez

Due to concerns over safety and logistical difficulties, students have made the switch from hybrid to remote learning.

Senior Kevin Liao raced up and down the stairs as he tried to find good WiFi for his B-block class. He had gone to the Schluntz Gymnasium: no luck. He visited the library next: no luck. Finally, he went back to the Schluntz Gymnasium and was able to find a signal. Then, halfway through the class, his computer died. Kevin got up again in search of an outlet. Finally, after finding a spot that has adequate WiFi and a charging port, his class was nearly over.

Many of the students who have gone back to in-person school have struggled with similar scenarios. Additionally, students in hybrid learning said they struggled with feeling safe, getting to school on time and getting from class to class. Because of this, many students are considering switching to a fully remote model, or have already done so.

Administrators, educators and parents alike want to know the safety level of in-person learning. According to the Public Schools of Brookline Advisory Panel 4 on Health Safety and Logistics, with the current available evidence, the consensus is that the risk of transmission within schools is low.

However, the debate on the efficacy and necessity of some protocols arises among students. While in school, Liao said that some of the traveling protocols couldn’t be followed properly.

“I think that not all of the processes can be followed. This is stuff like one-way stairways since you can’t put a teacher there. Stuff like dismissal where they have such narrow entryways that you are not going to a social distance no matter how hard you try,” Liao said.

Another main reason students would switch to remote is traveling to and from school. Sophomore Sophie O’Dell said that her lengthy commute made her day significantly more difficult. According to O’Dell, doing remote learning at home is logistically much easier.

“I live in Cambridge, so driving to school every day really early in the morning is not as efficient as simply waking up and logging onto Zoom,” O’Dell said.

The commute from class to class can be even more complicated. Freshman Anna Laine said that moving between classes was a big factor in deciding to move to remote learning. While she may have been able to be in school with other students, her complicated in-person and Zoom schedules undermined the potential benefits.

“In some classes, it might be complicated to get from place to place. Everything is just a little nerve-wracking, like going around the school and having to go to the Schultz Gym or somewhere else,” Laine said.

However, O’Dell said there’s a mixture of benefits and drawbacks to remote learning. While she was able to pay more attention in class when she was in-person, she would also have to constantly log on to Zoom in from the classroom. She said that logging into Zoom while in class negated the benefits of being in-person.

“There is an educational benefit because, in my opinion, I can pay attention to the lessons more. However, sometimes it feels like there’s no benefit because the people in hybrid, while they’re in school, will log onto Zoom anyway. It has me thinking, ‘I could just be doing this in the comfort of my home,’” O’Dell said.

Liao said the main positive of hybrid learning is lost because of the reliance on technology.

“I think the main appeal for a lot of kids is that you wouldn’t be sitting on a screen the whole time. So to get into hybrid and to sit on a screen for the whole time, I’d imagine was a letdown. And some classes’ styles of learning don’t work well with hybrid. Things like labs in science classes, and full class discussion in English, even a lot of electives, really just are impossible with hybrid learning,” Liao said.

However, Laine said that for students who learn better through in-person communication, hybrid learning might be better.

“There could be some sort of benefit from seeing your teachers and the people around you. It can definitely be beneficial to some people, especially if you’re a social learner,” Laine said.

Ultimately, students who have made the switch to remote learning aren’t regretful of their choice. For O’Dell, the switch to remote learning improved her daily routine. Moving to the remote allowed her to sleep longer since she didn’t have to wake up as early.

“I do miss going to school. However, I don’t miss having to wake up at 6 a.m. every day,” O’Dell said.

Liao said that the hybrid model didn’t seem to work as well as he had hoped.

“For me, it was at least just a way to switch things up and see how it would go. And ultimately it didn’t go well,” Liao said.