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What Students In 2020 Miss The Most About Going To School

December 11, 2020 By Sabrina Picou

Due to COVID-19 many schools have switched to online classes via Zoom, Canvas, or other online academic platforms. The change from in-person learning to online school was abrupt for many students back in March when the pandemic quickly escalated and affected the world and forced many schools to close in-person classrooms. A middle schooler, high schooler, and a college student reflect on their online school experiences this fall semester and how this has impacted their mental health and academic success.

Samuel Henry (he/him), 8th grade, middle school:

Photo courtesy of Samuel Henry: Samuel Henry’s at home classroom set-up.

SP: What does your typical day of Zoom classes consist of?

SHI get to wake up a little bit later than actually going into school. You just have a standard day just moving through [online] classrooms and doing your classwork. You don’t get as much attention as if you were in the [im-person] class. I take about eight classes, but my last four classes are 20 minutes long. I start at eight [in the morning] and end at two-ish [in the afternoon] so about 7 hours. We get a three-minute break to get to our next class and lunch is about an hour and it starts at 12:12 P.M.

SP: How has this structure of Zoom class in middle school impacted your mental health and ability to perform in school?

SH: It’s been quite good. It’s like a rest day, you don’t always need to worry. Maybe you just did a really hard sport and you feel exhausted, but you have virtual [class] tomorrow so you don’t have to move that much. You can always unmute yourself and talk to the teacher, I get the hang of it pretty fast. It’s maybe a little easier [compared to in-person class], it’s as difficult as normal school. You can get your work done during class, let’s say you have some homework, you can get that done during your next class because that might be a study hall. 

SP: What do you miss most about in-person school?

SHGetting to know your teachers better.

SP: How are you making time to see friends whether virtually or in-person now that classes are online?

SHI normally hangout with them Friday or Saturday.

SP: Is there anything you wish could be improved regarding online school?

SH: Better computers they could give us or that you’re allowed to borrow, because I’m using a Chromebook (given on loan to him by the school), and it runs really slow when you’re having two tabs open and the Zoom call.

Isabel Torres (she/her): Junior at Downey High School

Photo courtesy of Isabel Torres: Isabel’s at home classroom set-up.

SP: What does your typical day of Zoom classes consist of?

ITFor most of my classes we start with a warm-up and it takes about 10 to 20 minutes depending on what we do and then we go straight into notes depending on the classes. Sometimes the class will take 30 [minutes] to over an hour and sometimes I get exhausted because we’re just listening, and writing a lot for an hour. I have three [classes] each day but on Wednesdays we just have our fourth period and we go for 20 to 30 minutes. Because they put us into breakout rooms to talk to our classmates I feel like that takes a lot of time so those are the days that we stay in longer. In every class we’re kind of forced to turn on our cameras, if we don’t have them on then they mark us absent.

SP: Do you feel this structure of Zoom class in high school impacted your mental health and ability to perform in school?

IT: It has impacted me in a good way, but also in a bad way because I get stuff done pretty fast. It affects me mentally because I just get exhausted every day because we have to have our cameras on and, and the classes can be pretty long and all we just do is listen and write. 

SP: Do you feel your teachers are understanding of student’s mental health right now?

ITThey always offer their help if you want to talk to them, or they offer help from the school’s website, they tell you where to go to get help. If a student is stressed out, you could talk to that teacher and they can work things out like give out less homework or whatever they need to do. 

SP: What has been the biggest change from in-person high school to Zoom high school?

ITMy mentality. I’m more lazy because I’m always at home because we’re in one place all day, every day it drives me nuts. I didn’t read that much because I never had time but because I have time, I read more than I usually do for pleasure.

SP: How are you making time to see friends whether virtually or in-person now that classes are online?

ITI’m not just because I’m not trying to risk my health. Also it’s a new school, because I moved schools – I don’t really talk to my old friends. It’s a new school so I don’t know what it would be like.

SP: What is one thing you wish your teachers would know about what it’s like to be a student right now?

IT: They’ll give me too much homework one day and I have chores to do and I have to workout and those are the days that I get really stressed. 

Alyssa Vega (she/her), senior at Boston University:

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Vega: Alyssa Vega’s dorm desk and online class set-up.

SP: What does your typical day of Zoom classes consist of?

AV: COVID-19 has definitely changed my work and school schedule. One benefit from online classes is that I get to sleep in a little bit more for my morning classes since I don’t have to commute anymore. I’m just fortunate to be in the same time zone [EST] because I know plenty of my classmates who are not and they have to attend class at five in the morning. Because I’m sitting all day, for Zoom classes and work I have to move my body. Whether it’s going on walks every day, doing home workout or stretching I try to move my body. I typically have two classes a day and they’re two hours and 45 minutes long and that’s not including homework, work, and my phone screen time.

SP: How has this structure of Zoom class impacted your mental health and ability to perform in school?

AV: Compared to my previous semesters, I feel more unmotivated to attend classes online. Lectures on Zoom make the class less interactive and engaging. As a senior I definitely feel like I’m missing out on my college experience. Plus I have this added stress of taking care of my health. 

SP: What do you wish your professors would know about being a college student right now in 2020?

AVI’m fortunate to have professors this semester that don’t require group projects, because it’s been crazy enough sitting through long lectures and then having this expectation to meet with our classmates online. I wish professors wouldn’t take up the full lectures on Zoom, because each of my classes are like two hours and 45 minutes long and I think that it is way too much time to spend on the lecture online, especially without breaks. I have this one professor who doesn’t take a break between lectures and at the end of the day I have Zoom fatigue so I have to turn off my camera. I spend about nine plus hours on the laptop a day.

SP: Are you making time to care for yourself and how are you practicing self care?

AV: I like to take at least 30 minutes of my morning to myself that consists of making breakfast, writing in my journal, practicing yoga or going for a walk. I go on walks every day and that’s certainly been helping with my anxiety and stress. I also try not to check my phone, my emails, news, or social media as soon as I wake up. I noticed that when I start my days scrolling through my feed or checking emails my day feels more stressful and it’s so easy to be spending so much time scrolling through your Twitter feed or checking my email so I’ve just tried to break that habit and just focus on how I’m going to start my day. I feel especially during the pandemic it’s important to practice self care.View OptionsExport

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