Virtual Semester in Review

If you had told students a year ago that half of their class time would be spent on a computer, it’s unlikely that they would believe you. Still, 2020’s unique conditions have forced schools across the nation to adapt to new obstacles. With the first semester of the hybrid or virtual schedule out of the way, students have had time to develop their feelings about these practices. 

The choice to keep virtual learning as an option for the second semester is supported by many students who feel it is necessary due to COVID-19 still being active. 

“It’s an important choice to give students at RHS because, while some people feel comfortable learning in person, students like me feel as if it’s a better idea to stay home,” junior Mallory Bolser said. 

For some students, the benefits of virtual learning go further than just staying away from other students during the pandemic. 

“I plan to stick with the virtual learning style due to the fact that it’s self-paced, and I personally enjoy working at my own time,” senior Jacob Pipenger said. “Not to mention, it keeps my older grandfather safer as I have less exposure to COVID.”

For others, virtual learning alleviated the stress that hybrid learning otherwise would have caused. 

“[Hybrid learning] really hindered the beginning of the semester,” Bolser said. “I was in person at school at the time, and it had a negative effect on my grades and mental health. Because of those factors and the COVID risks, I went to online school and it really helped my academic performance.”

However, the online option did come with some drawbacks.

“I have had to become very self-motivated because, if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get any work done,” Bolser said. “I have had to make sure that I was on top of my school work because, if not, it is way easier to slip behind.” 

Some of these drawbacks were resolved through the help of teachers. 

“Most of my issues have been technical, but they have greatly improved since the beginning of the year with feedback being given to the teachers,” Pipenger said. 

Teacher input also allowed some classes to transition naturally into the virtual classroom.

“Some of my classes like AP Computer Science worked really well online because of how project-based and individual they were,” Bolser said. “My Spanish class also transitioned very well because my teacher is very diligent about making the class work well.”

But there are still concerns about transitioning some classes into an online style. 

“There are classes that shouldn’t transition into virtual because I don’t think it would be possible,” Pipenger said. “For example, chemistry or physics. They’re both difficult classes and require an in-person instructor to fully understand [the] material.”

If there is one takeaway from this semester, it is that perseverance goes a long way. Winter break provides some precious time to rest, but students and teachers alike shouldn’t get ahead of themselves. Last semester shows that this is a task that both groups can take on.