Students, Teachers, Parents All Affected by Virtual Learning

In California, the COVID-19 outbreak has racked up to over 946,000 cases in total, with Los Angeles County accounting for 311,000+ cases of it. Ever since late March, students, teachers, as well as parents from all over the world have been affected by the shutdown of schools. Some have adapted normally to the internet classes, while others have formed strong opinions about virtual learning, even calling for the reopening of schools.

 112 students out of 147 total have shown a particular dislike for online schooling by voting for in-person schooling on an Instagram poll that asked whether they preferred online or in-person schooling more. 

Marina Ejercito, a sophomore PACE student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School, is one of the many affected students. Ejercito said, “Online working does have things praisable about it, such as being able to work at my own pace. But I believe that online school has more disadvantages than advantages.” 

The question is, why do these students find online learning dislikeable? The answers are varied, but numerous students have reported that they have long school hours, plentiful workloads, and poor connectivity during their time in online schooling. 

For some high school students in Long Beach, their classes usually start at around 7:50 and end at 2:40, which is in total a 6-hour school day. It is nothing different than the schedule they would have if they were still in an actual school, however, the major problem is the time spent staring at a digital screen. The website newsroom.osfhealthcare.org states that kids from ages 5-17 should only spend a maximum of two hours per day staring at the screen. From this, it is obvious that teens and young kids already spend at least 4 hours more than the daily recommendation, but it is not accounting the time spent on online homework or their phones once the classes are over.

Andrew Navarrete, a tenth grader at Cabrillo High School shares his thoughts on the long school hours. “Some of us don’t have the patience to stare at a screen for more than six hours breaking our backs. It’s physically draining, making me more and more tired,” Navarrete said.

Though there are guaranteed breaks in between their classes, like lunch and nutrition period, having more than six hours of screen time per day, every week, can lead up to health complications like eye-straining, headaches, and back pains (from poor posture). 

Online school has shown that not only is it physically exhausting for students but also mentally. Alyssa Savath, a tenth grader JUSTICE student at Poly High School said, “My mental health sucks. I mean, it’s been like that for a while, but online classes made it worse.” Tenth grade CIC student Miles Salas shared that his virtual learning experience is “stressful” due to the number of assignments piling up.

Students have been feeling not only stressed due to school but lonely from the lack of human interaction. According to the CDC, approximately 4.4 million children ages 3-17 have diagnosed anxiety while approximately 1.9 million (of the same age range) have diagnosed depression.

 Having a poor work environment that disrupts the students’ learning makes it even harder for them as not all of them have a quiet background or a stable connection during the call. This is probably one of the factors as to why some students do not like to have their cameras on for class. Felix Oukh, a Poly MEDS tenth grader said, “I don’t like having to stare at myself and being uncomfortable about backgrounds and then getting kicked out because I didn’t turn on my camera or leave it on, which is quite stupid.” 

Although it can be an irritation for some students to keep their cameras on, some teachers find that seeing their students’ faces can be quite helpful when teaching the class. 

Dr. Amy Stuht, a Poly English teacher said that although she is thankful that working from home keeps her and her husband safe from COVID-19, she understands that not all students are comfortable with showing their faces. However, she is worried that she might not be able to connect the voices and the names to the faces of the students in her class when school starts to reopen. Being able to see her students’ faces also gives her indications on whether or not her lesson is understandable to them. 

The circumstances and experiences of of virtual learning differ not only between occupation, but also between age groups. Donna Jonas, a stay-at-home mother of four (ages 10, 9, 5, and 1), has three of her kids enrolled in online classes. She says that although they have adapted well to online learning, it put more on her plate as her schedule went from doing the basic chores to also helping her kids prepare for their classes. While she finds it great that her kids are with her at their home, she believes that students should be able to learn at school. 

Because of the ongoing crisis of the pandemic, online learning has shown that it severely hinders many students’ ability to learn. Students such as Justine Erana, a senior at Bellflower High School, is one of the many who wishes to go back to in-person school. She likes how virtual learning is at her own pace, but she finds that opening school is more beneficial as it would help students retain information and the motivation to learn more efficiently. 

“I wish that teachers could record their lectures and upload them to Google Classroom for students to view later if they didn’t understand the lesson,” Erana said in response to virtual classes. 

Students, teachers, and parents alike have expressed the same concern about going back to in-person school. In response to this, the Long Beach Unified School District had put up a statement letting residents know that online schooling is only temporary. Despite the actual return date being uncertain, staff and students may eventually be able to go back to school at some point during this school year, but with strict regulations to follow that adheres to COVID-19 safety.