Local high schools have been returning to campus part-time as Alameda County stabilizes in the red tier. This return is a triumph for some high-schoolers and a strenuous mental block for others. My younger brother, an Amador Valley High School sophomore, has said that going back to school helped him finish his work when he otherwise struggled at home. He also said it made him feel as if “life was finally returning to normal”.
Reopening can be a great step for students who have trouble staying focused in an online learning environment. Being in a classroom setting without distractions breaks the dissonance students have had with actually learning in their classes.
Students who are made to work from home may find it more convenient to cheat or google their way through classwork. When online resources are so readily available, students are likely to take advantage of them. Inadvertently, online school has caused students to rely on getting answers online rather than figuring it out themselves. This habit will definitely cause issues for those going back this semester.
The decision to stay at home or go hybrid is up to the students. However, a student’s circumstances can stop them from returning to the classroom. Sid Bhargav, a junior at Amador High School, says that he isn’t returning to school out of concern for his grandma. He already attends a fencing club in person at LPC, so he would rather not have the added liability of a hybrid school. Bhargav also values online school for their structure. He claims, “being online is consistent. Every day I’m online; I prefer having something that I’m used to and I didn’t wanna go through the hassle of going hybrid.” Bhargav goes on to say, “I’m used to online. I know how my teachers want [things done] online.” This may be the case for many choosing to stay online.
However, online school clearly has its faults. It has been incredibly easy for students to cheat this school year. One anonymous student says, “A lot of people have been cheating,” for any homework or test. “You’re a click away from finding out… It’s an Adam and Eve forbidden-fruit type beat”. It is an interesting analogy to our situation.
With so much pressure on students to maintain a high GPA, it seems like the online format makes the issue of cheating inevitable. In addition, there is more pressure to succeed academically this year for upperclassmen as the graduating class of 2020 is also applying to colleges. Even with office hours available to students, taking the free time you have away from looking at the screen is less than appealing. So cheating becomes the fast and easy option.
Edward Ding, an Amador Valley High senior, is going hybrid this semester. His biggest worry going back to school this semester was that he “wasn’t sure what the structure of the class was gonna be.” Ding says, “obviously right it’s not everyone going back to hybrid, it’s just some people and I wasn’t really sure how the teacher was gonna balance the workload between the two different methods … I didn’t know if it would be hard for me as a student to learn if the teacher would be focusing on one group over another”.
Despite these concerns, the content of in-person classes doesn’t necessarily differ much from online courses, the learning environment is the only thing that is changed. Edward says, “students still log in to zoom and attend zoom classes, [and] we don’t have labs.”
The biggest argument against hybrid schooling is the failure to enforce social distancing and public health safety by the school staff. Edward refutes this, “as far as I’ve seen, the social-distancing and the public health guidelines, they’ve been impeccably followed. Everyone is wearing masks”…“Inside classrooms, we’re sanitizing desks. There are five people max per classroom anyways so it’s very easy to spread out …Safety is not an issue here, I feel very safe in the classroom.”
Amador Valley High School has been safe in its hybrid situation. The open-campus style of Amador is also helpful. There are arrows placed in large halls so students stay distanced from each other. The arrows follow the directory each student is required to follow every day. Students are instructed to follow their schedules according to the campus maps. When you arrive at your classroom, you have to wait in a distanced line outside before the teacher comes to get you to minimize time spent inside the classroom. Sanitization is very important, so students play a part in helping clean the classrooms.
This doesn’t mean the same will happen for Las Positas students. Depending on who you ask, the delayed opening of colleges could be a blessing or a curse. Since LPC has a relatively massive amount of students it is unlikely that they are going to return to campus this semester. However, there is hope on the horizon. Some summer classes are planned to open in person in a limited capacity. More information regarding summer classes will come out soon.