The only antidote to virtual learning fatigue you’ll ever need

If you’ve found that zooms chock-full of black boxes aren’t suiting your needs, perhaps coming back to school will be to your benefit

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Sophie Leung-Lieu

The lack of interaction on Zoom has created social disconnection for students and made it harder for teachers to know if their students understand the lessons they are taught.

We as members of the McCallum High School community, since the start of the pandemic, have all felt confined. We’ve all been living in a dark age in which we’re driven by fear, confusion, self-doubt, and isolation. Some of us have found comfort in this, even if everything we could ever want is on the other side of this fear, because we’re too afraid to glimpse the light and the endless possibilities that come with it. Nevertheless, McCallum is now allowing its students the opportunity to come back to school in-person each day while actually getting to switch classes. Given our current circumstances, it has to be worth it.

Going to school will force you to get out of your bed each day, break free from the state of fear you have been confined to in the midst of the pandemic, and be around other people.”

Admittedly, it must be acknowledged that for most McCallum students, the prospect of coming back to school is viewed as scary and a crushing weight. For some, languishing in their pandemic-induced fear of the unknown has become akin to a safety net, so going back to school will just mean that they’ll have to overcome this fear and return to a state of normalcy. For others, going back to school seems unfathomable simply because COVID is still a vital threat worldwide. In-person school at McCallum though has to be worth it because we as humans have been programmed to crave human connection and online school has robbed us of the opportunity to experience that regularly. Additionally, in-person school allows students to be more focused, which motivates them to get their schoolwork done.

In-person school allows students to see and connect with their peers regularly. We as humans need each other. Whether we’re extroverts, introverts, or a mix of both, this sentiment still holds true. People can clearly benefit from solitude, but constantly being alone with the exception of your immediate family members will inevitably have detrimental effects on your mental health. Going to school will force you to get out of your bed each day, break free from the state of fear you have been confined to in the midst of the pandemic, and be around other people. Clearly not every person is a social butterfly, but there is someone for everyone, with this perception having proven true for people time and again. It only takes one person who will instantaneously get you, which will allow you to let someone into your life, and being at school will increase your chances of finding that person due to the wealth of vibrant personalities you’ll encounter while there. In regards to people who enjoy a constant stream of social interaction, clearly they’ll benefit from going to school too. For those who already have forged close friendships with others at McCallum, going back to school in-person will afford them the chance to better reconnect with these people, since they will get to see them everyday at school.

With online learning, most students have their cameras off during Zoom classes, so teachers are not able to effectively gauge whether or not they are confused about the information they are being taught based on their body language and facial expressions.”

Additionally, in-person learning also results in students being more willing to get their schoolwork done. As much as we might want to deny it, we’ve all uttered this common refrain when it comes to schoolwork: “It’ll get it done later.” Consider this sentiment for a moment though. When has it ever, really in truly? Being at school flips this once-appealing and comforting remark on its head to “It’ll get done now.” Although school does have its joys and benefits, it still has an aura of rigidity influenced by decidedly stringent rules and the cold, shiny seats of classroom chairs. In turn, we as students feel a sense of reluctance to break out our phones in order to check our text messages, browse social media, and do whatever else we feel the need to do as soon as our teachers have given us assignments each class period. That, compounded by the fact that we don’t necessarily want to have to do homework at home and we’re cognizant of the fact that our teachers notice that we’re wasting time, allows us to get our work done and not have numerous missing assignments every grading period. Conversely, for most, online school has the opposite effect. During each of our Zoom classes, as soon as our teachers have given us our assignments after having lectured for what seems like an eternity, we’re off to the kitchen to get a snack and then we’re glued to our phones with the sole goal of avoiding doing the assignments we were given until our next class. Suddenly, that common refrain has become a whole lot more enticing and hard to ignore. This direct contrast in how motivated we are when it comes to in-person as opposed to online school is exactly why it’s crucial for the students of McCallum to start in-person school.

Moreover, in-person school enables teachers to more effectively identify whether or not students are confused about the information that they are learning through their body language and present the information in ways that suits the different learning styles of the students who are confused. All students have different learning styles. Whether that’s visual, auditory, reading/writing, or kinetic merely depends on who the student is as an individual. With online learning, most students have their cameras off during Zoom classes, so teachers are not able to effectively gauge whether or not they are confused about the information they are being taught based on their body language and facial expressions. Consequently, it’s obviously hard for teachers to help students who are confused understand the information in ways that pertain to their specific learning styles. In spite of the fact that students do have the opportunity to chat their teachers in their Zoom classes, it’s not guaranteed the teacher will see their message before having moved on to another subject. Needless to say, this just isn’t the case with in-person learning.

Now that vaccines are being distributed worldwide, the risk of contracting the virus while there has decreased even more.”

The clear reason as to why students are reluctant to come back to school stems from the fact that they are still worried about contracting COVID-19. Their concerns are unquestionably valid, but McCallum has taken the necessary precautions to ensure that everyone who attends school in-person is safe and now that vaccines are being distributed worldwide, the risk of contracting the virus while there has decreased even more. Additionally, it has been scientifically proven that in general, kids are not as likely to develop covid-19, as compared to adults. Students who live with or regularly see older adults obviously shouldn’t come back to school. All other students, however, have the opportunity to return to a school that will be safe for them.

Listen, going back to school after almost a full year of doing online school of course sounds scary. Some students have even benefited immensely from the online approach to school. For every other student who hasn’t though, daunting as it may be, at least try to take the plunge and come back to school. If you find yourself not enjoying it, then there’s always the option to continue doing online school. Perhaps though, you’ll come to find that you wished you’d done it sooner.