Carlmont students struggle with online learning

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"Student study at home Sept 2020-59" by University of the Fraser Valley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Students across the country are learning to adjust to school at home.

COVID-19 has killed more than 200,000 people in the United States alone. In response, many schools, including Carlmont High School, have resorted to using Zoom and online learning to ensure students’ safety.

Studies show that the more interactions people have, and the more they gather in highly populated areas, the more prone they are to catching COVID-19. In some people, the virus can take anywhere from days to a full two weeks to display visible symptoms. Due to the number of cases in the state of California, members of the Sequoia Union High School District’s (SUHSD) Board of Trustees determined that Carlmont would operate entirely online until further notice. This decision was made to protect students’ health from risk.

Online learning has made an enormous change in the learning capacity of Carlmont students. Like most things, online classes have both benefits and disadvantages. Many students have expressed a common pattern of issues, including technical difficulties with Zoom, unsteady WiFi connections, trouble with group work, and organization problems. One student brought up their problems with Zoom’s breakout room feature, which teachers have used to replace in-person group work and collaboration.

According to sophomore Katrin Lelyushkina, breakout room expectations aren’t always met. She said that when she goes into breakout rooms, she is usually the only one talking. No other students in the room takes initiative or actively participates. 

While the trouble is technical for some, other students find themselves missing the social aspect of in-class learning. 

“Making new friends is hard, and I don’t have any amazing new friends this year because you don’t really talk to people outside of the breakout rooms,” said Celine Trinh, a sophomore. 

Lelyushkina agreed with Trinh that interacting with others in the classroom adds to the learning experience.

“I like being able to see people, and taking the social aspect out of learning makes it a lot more boring and hard to focus,” Lelyushkina said.

Overall, most students expressed that they learn better when they are in the classroom than over Zoom calls.

“I feel like it’s more interactive that way [being present in the classroom]. When you’re on Zoom, I feel like I’m teaching myself the material half the time,” Trinh said.

While school was still in-person, many students found themselves comprehending the material better, as classes such as science were more interactive. Outside of regular classes, clubs such as the Robotics Club were able to work on their required projects together, which they can no longer do.  

A vaccine for COVID-19 is still in progress, as many students, teachers, and parents are eager for scientists to develop the vaccine so that education can return to normal. 

For now, students such as Trinh believe that online learning is the best for the community and to protect everyone.

“If there weren’t [COVID-19], I’d go back, of course. As of now, I wouldn’t go back to school even if given a chance,” Trinh said.

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