Virtual School

Zainab Khan, Radical Reviewer

Because of COVID-19, plans for schooling have constantly been changing. Recently, Parkway students were given the opportunity to decide whether they would  continue online school or return to school in-person. 

For the school year so far, classes for students have been strictly online. Virtual learning is a new concept for most students, and although it ultimately offers a way to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, it comes with many pros and cons.

“Online school definitely has its ups and downs. What I like about it most is how my experience has been good. I’ve been pretty calm doing online work,” said junior Lauren Lam. 

A positive aspect of online school is being able to do it in the comfort of your own home and room, where you could easily access anything you would need for the day. In terms of mental health, anxiety has become less of an issue for some students as well. Students feel safe at home instead of in a room with people they feel uncomfortable with. 

“I’m pretty comfortable with doing online school since I’m in my room for all classes. I can say that my bedroom is like my safe place,” said Lam.

Along with being in the comfort of your own home and bed, some students have the comfort of their pets throughout the day too. 

“I like to have my dog, Fredo, with me during the day,” said senior Macy Nimock. “Many people have also adopted pets during quarantine for comfort as well.”

Sleep duration has  improved for many students with school starting later in the morning. In some circumstances, there may even be less homework which gives students the ability to go to sleep earlier.

“I tend to sleep from 12:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.  solidly. I think it’s a little more sleep than I would normally get, which is nice,” said Nimock. 

Once second quarter begins, students who have chosen to go to school virtually will not be able to sleep in as late but still won’t have to get up as early as they would if they were in-person because they don’t have to travel to school and can get ready faster.

A pro of teaching online classes for English teacher Wendy Surinsky is being able to connect with her students again.

“My favorite part of teaching online classes is the same as my favorite part of teaching in-person classes, and that is getting to know and make connections with students, hear their beautiful thinking and see them grow,” said Surinsky.

The principle reason for virtual learning is to save lives. Over 200,000 Americans have died from COVID-19 and learning from home has helped prevent that number from rising any more.

“The other important part is that teaching online helps keep us safe from the virus,” said Surinsky. “Coronavirus rates aren’t exactly getting better, with around 8.19 million cases in the United States alone.” 

With the pros, there are also many cons of online classes. For instance, the big problem with online learning isn’t actually learning, but just isolation. Being alone and not being able to connect with people as much as before has taken a toll on students. 

“The thing I dislike about online school is not being able to meet people in person. Yes, it is good that everyone is staying home, but I do miss talking to people and building connections with others in person,” said Lam.

While some people enjoy the idea of wearing their pajamas and staying in their rooms for school, others don’t particularly enjoy the school at home experience. 

It is hard for someone like me who tends to be very extraverted. I am semi-comfortable doing work from home, but I get distracted easily since it is not my typical work area,” said Nimock. 

Many students have other priorities,such as work or taking care of younger siblings, while they are learning virtually. If they were at school, they would be away from these things and be able to focus more on school. These things can easily add a lot of pressure and stress to students’ mental health. 

“My mental health is okay, not the greatest it could be, but the circumstances make it hard to balance all the core areas of my life such as social, academic, athletic and leisure,” said Nimock.

Online school has also been tough on teachers since most prefer interacting with students in person, rather than through a screen.

“It’s hard not being able to read students’ faces for understanding and confusion,” said Surinsky. “Teaching is all about the conversation among students and between students and teachers, and creating that conversation through a screen is often challenging.”

Due to virtual school, staring at a screen for a long time is now normal This is not physically or mentally healthy for anyone. It can cause eye strain, poor circulation, headaches, and back pain.

“By the end of the school day, I often end up feeling like Mike TeaVee, the character in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ who ends up inside a television set. I feel like I’m completely digitized,” said Surinsky.

At the end of the day, it is important to do what is required to protect ourselves and people around us, and one way of doing that is limiting social interactions by conducting online schooling. Although there are many opinions, both positive and negative, on school currently, the community should always keep in mind that coronavirus is still a big deal, and the ultimate pro of online school is our safety and health.