Virtual learning puts stress on students, but hybrid learning offers hopes of normalcy
By Katie Smith
For the majority of the school year, students have attended classes 100% virtually. However, since March 1st over a third of AACPS students have returned to the buildings for two days a week. With the help of Broadneck High School’s students, we can receive an in-depth view of how virtual and hybrid classes’ have changed the lives of high school students. While both virtual and hybrid learning has offered an array of pros and cons, students have started seeing normalcy in hybrid settings.
All students continue to go to virtual classes for at least 3 days a week, if not 5 days a week. Virtual learning has had an overwhelmingly negative impact on most students. Initially students were excited to get a two-week spring break back in March 2020, but the narrative quickly changed as the pandemic dragged on and students struggled with a lack of routine. In a survey among Broadneck students, over 50% strongly agreed that it has been hard to stay motivated during virtual learning. As a result, 20.4% of students confessed they had more than 10 missing assignments throughout the virtual school year. This is explained in a New York Times article writing “it’s generally harder to keep students engaged with virtual lessons.” Additionally, about 50% of students agreed to feeling lonely and isolated to some extent during virtual learning.
However, there are ways to help students cope with these issues. Teacher Bruin Blocks are available every day of the week and the Broadneck counseling site offers a tutoring portal. Personally, emailing teachers and explaining your situation has helped me when facing troubles in class. And from my experience, I have never had a teacher who was not happy to provide extra help. Teachers understand that students are having a rough time, too. Lastly, students in the survey shared their own ways of coping with isolation. Some of the most popular ways kids found comfort was through listening to music, playing video games, and by calling and texting friends.
Even with all the negative effects, students shared some pros of virtual learning in the survey. For example, over 50% of students enjoy spending extra time with family during virtual learning. Furthermore, one student shared that they appreciate “having all of [their] assignments in Google Classroom” that way they can “see what’s graded and when it’s due” without carrying an agenda. I agree that the Google Classroom to-do tab and calendar takes away the worry of keeping track of assignments. Also, many AP students are delighted to hear that AP tests will be online this year since essays will be typed rather than written.
In the survey, hybrid learning has had overwhelmingly positive feedback. Only 17.2% of hybrid students agreed to some extent that it is difficult to stay motivated, which is over a 30% decrease since virtual learning. Along with a severe drop in missing assignments, only 7% of hybrid students claimed to be missing over 10. Additionally, far less hybrid students are experiencing feelings of loneliness. In fact, no students strongly agreed with feeling lonely during hybrid. Most importantly, we should note that about 80% of hybrid students felt neutral, agreed, or strongly agreed that hybrid learning was meeting all their expectations and improved their well-being.
However, students are still facing a few issues with hybrid learning. Some complain they “want the lunch to be different,” and even one hybrid student says they “eat lunch all alone” because they’re “the only person in [their] third period b day” class. As of now, there is no talk about changing lunch this year. Also, students are frustrated because “Bruin Blocks are boring” when you are not meeting with a teacher and “hybrid doesn’t seem like it changed” from virtual learning. Unfortunately, most of these issues will not be resolved until fall 2021 at the earliest, but thankfully hybrid has offered students optimism in lots of other ways.
While virtual learning has had many negative effects, hybrid learning has created a safe and overall positive environment for Broadneck’s students. With Governor Larry Hogan opening vaccines up to 16-year-olds, and Pfizer seeking approval from the FDA to administer vaccines to kids as young as 12, all students can be hopeful for a relatively normal 2021-2022 school year.