By Dveen Hagopian and Grace Mundy
The 2020-21 school year is truly an unprecedented one. From the Coronavirus pandemic, which began in March to the more recent national Black Lives Matter protests in the wake of George Floyd’s death to historic wildfires, this year has been an ever-changing and historic year.
Coupled with all these events, students are also taking on a new chapter: online learning. Distance learning has had its ups and downs for many students. Many students have found it difficult to adjust to online classes, and are still trying to learn how to work with this new learning style even after our introduction last semester.
But, some students see benefits.
“The transition to online school was pretty smooth for me. Online school allows you to be more independent in your work since it is your job to keep everything organized and turn in assignments on time. It also allows you to work at your own pace on certain assignments, which is a positive,” freshman Cassanda Jordan Brinas said.
However, with online school, many students feel overwhelmed with their workloads and are unable to remain focused due to distractions in their home environments. In addition, the social aspect of online school is a challenge. Some students are finding it difficult to make friends and get to know their new classmates and teachers, because speaking to them through a screen is nowhere near the same as having real life conversations.
“Personally, the negative aspect of online learning is the communication with others in the class, and connection issues that might occur during meetings. It’s my first year of high school, so I was looking forward to meeting my new classmates. However distance learning makes it a little hard to keep in contact with others. Since everyone is doing work or school online, connection issues are also a frequent problem. That has been a hassle during live sessions where we have to listen carefully to the teacher’s directions and you are suddenly logged out of the meeting,” Brinas stated.
Many students who have gone through the distance learning learning curve have picked up new strategies for managing stress and school work. Junior Nemsie Gonzalez explained some strategies that have helped her become comfortable with online school.
“Make sure to communicate with your friends as often as possible. We’re already extremely isolated, and talking to your friends can help hold you accountable [for schoolwork]. If you can, call friends and do homework together, make checkpoints for yourself, and try installing apps like ‘Flora’ to stop you from wandering onto distracting apps,” Gonzalez said.
Additionally, this year, Granada Hills Charter (GHC) freshmen attended STA online, which aimed to prepare students for online classes, and helped them become familiar with how their new schedules would work.
“My teachers were very nice and they helped students get into the process of adapting to this new learning system,” Brinas said.
Another resource that GHC offers during these stressful times is a Virtual Wellness Center that includes calming visuals and sounds as well as mental health support from the Health Office. Many students are likely facing financial, social, and emotional struggles due to the pandemic, wildfires, and political conflicts that are occurring. For these reasons, learning about mental health issues and ways to get help on a regular basis is useful and greatly appreciated by many students.
According to USA Today, many students are currently struggling with keeping up with their school work, maintaining close relationships with friends, economic hardships, or the trauma of having sick or dying loved ones, which inevitably takes a toll on their mental health.
Online school may be difficult, and it is certainly not the first choice for many students. But it is of utmost importance to remember that it is the best option given our current circumstances. Online classes help keep students, teachers, and staff members safe, and prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“Online school is definitely safer than in-person school. We need to be quarantining, so online school is the best alternative,” sophomore Raha Jalali said.