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As of March 2020, attending school in New York City is very different from the traditional model of in-person learning that has been in place for generations.
With the continuing COVID-19 pandemic – and the emergence of new variants like Omicron and Delta – online or blended education appears to be a more regular arrangement than educators and students may have initially anticipated.
“When they first told us the school was going to be online, it was right before spring break,” said Peter Chung, 17, senior at Bushwick Leaders High School. “It looked like it was only going to last a few weeks on the computer, and then we could come back. Obviously, that didn’t really happen.
Many students like Chung initially believed that the pandemic would quickly become a non-issue and normal life would go on. NYU sophomore Avena Gonzales was extremely upset that her break was punctuated by a hasty move out of the dorms, without having the chance to say goodbye to her friends and classmates.
“It was so sad to see 20 faces on a screen after my semester before it was full of these amazing in-person class chats and conversations,” Gonzales said. “It was hard to feel comfortable enough to talk about things that sound like in class, but now I think I’m in it again.
Notwithstanding the obvious issues that online and virtual learning can raise in households – such as technological accessibility, safety during learning or the presence of a parent or guardian – a big question regarding connection online was whether it would be successful or not. Would students really be able to learn and retain information? Would they like to learn as before?
“I was actually surprised how quickly I adapted to this style of teaching and learning,” said Anja Westoop, another Bushwick Leaders student. She said the first semester of fully online learning was difficult at first, with the teachers themselves still learning the interfaces of Zoom or other platforms. But after a while, Westoop and his classmates started to feel more comfortable with the method. “I actually had the best score I’ve ever done in a really big semester when we were still fully online, and some of me and my friends have noticed that our grades are much better. than they were before the pandemic. “
While some distractions in the classroom may have been eliminated, these same distractions are missed by students who argue that school is not just about the curriculum, but the environment as well.
“I really missed being with all my friends and having that class routine and then having lunch and sitting together and just messing around,” Chung said. “I feel like this was one of the main reasons I was so upset with online school at first as I only have very young siblings and wanted to be with kids. of my age and be with my friends again. But of course, it wasn’t sure.
However, for some students, the distractions at school were pale compared to those at home.
For high school student Deven Chevannes, online schooling seemed impossible.
“My mom also works at home now and also has to watch my younger brother who is in second grade and make sure he is careful and doing his homework as well,” Chevannes said. “Sometimes I have to step in and make sure he’s okay, then it gets really loud when he’s tired and wants to stop sitting and I’m not supposed to turn my camera off during my class, but sometimes I have to. To do”.
Earlier this year, many students were relieved when Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that students would be ready to resume in-person learning.
“Now my mom doesn’t have to babysit and work at the same time and I can actually hear what my teacher is saying,” Chevannes said.
However, for some students, online learning was a convenient way to learn from the comfort of their own homes.
“I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t miss my friends and everything,” said Westoop, “But it was also really nice not having to wake up an hour before class started, and I really liked not having to make him go back and forth to school. But, I missed my teachers. Don’t tell them I said that.