Hybrid Students Go Remote

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage on, one question that concerns hybrid students is the safety of attending in-person classes. In the hybrid model, students attend classes in-person two to three times per week and work remotely during the remaining days of the week. However, as the school year has continued, many students are opting out of hybrid learning and switching over to fully remote.
“From March to June I realized how much I enjoyed going to school and how much I missed it so I wanted to be able to go back again because I had such a great experience last year. I missed my friends and I thought that it was best for my education because last year’s remote platform was not sufficient for me especially compared to this year’s platform,” said tenth-grader Kaitlin Campana about initially choosing the hybrid model. Campana’s motivations echoed many students, who felt remote learning wasn’t fulfilling their social and educational needs.

Other students felt comfortable going to school because the local COVID-19 cases were at a low in August. When asked about her experience with hybrid learning, Carly Besselman-Goldes, tenth grader, said, “What I found beneficial about the hybrid model is even though it was not ideal, I was still able to see and do work with my teachers face to face.” Along with Besselman-Goldes, many other students said they enjoyed being able to communicate with their teachers face to face. A key part of attending school is getting to interact with teachers. It’s easier to converse with teachers about issues you’re having when you are sitting in the same room, rather than looking at one another on the computer screen.

Eleventh-grader Ava Conciatori was asked about the drawbacks of the hybrid model. “The drawbacks of hybrid learning was having to get used to two different schedules, and if you were exposed, you have to quarantine.” Taking part in the hybrid model has its benefits, but it also raises some risks. If a student comes in contact with a classmate who later tests positive for the virus, they have to quarantine for 14 days and stay remote for those two weeks. Along with hybrid learning comes two different daily schedules: one for the day you’re remote and one for the day you’re hybrid. Campana stated that having one day remote and the next hybrid was affecting her sleeping habits. “It really messed with my sleep cycle because on “b” days I was waking up an hour later than I was on “a” days and it started to take a toll. I think the inconsistency of going into school and not is also taxing because there isn’t much staying the same, and I think now more than ever it is important to have some consistency.”

Eventually, after experiencing the hybrid model, these students switched to remote learning. “I felt less anxious with COVID, and missing my friends in school made school not fun for me,” said junior Eden Patrick. Other students also said they didn’t feel comfortable attending school with cases on the rise. Besselman-Goldes mentioned that when a student in one of her classes got COVID-19, and she had to quarantine for two weeks, she and her family decided it was best for her to stay home, especially since cases were increasing.

These students said that remote learning had provided them with consistency, efficiency, relief, and extra sleep. Students say they get more work done at home, and they don’t have to live with the stress of possibly being exposed to the virus. However, these students stated that there are also drawbacks to remote learning. “Some drawbacks are less human interaction, harder time concentrating, having more of an urge to fall asleep and much more stress on the eyes from looking at the computer screen all day,” said Conciatori. Staring at a screen all day can make an individual tired and make their eyes hurt. Students also have homework after school to do on their computer, which creates additional screen time and stress on their eyes.

Adjusting to a new learning environment can be difficult. Patrick and Conciatori say it has been quite difficult adjusting, while in contrast, Besselman-Goldes and Campana say it has not been hard. Besselman-Goldes says, “I feel that our school has done a great job at helping students adjust to learning during a pandemic… but if this experience has taught me anything, it is motivation.” Besselman-Goldes says that sometimes motivation has been difficult to find, but remote learning has begun to teach her how to find it. Unlike Besselman-Goldes, Patrick said, “It’s been really hard adjusting to doing every part of school at home, because it gets really boring and there becomes a decrease in motivation.” Patrick finds staying at home and staring at a screen all day boring. Motivation at home has been a challenge for everyone. Remaining positive can also be a challenge as well. When asked about maintaining positivity toward school and learning, Conciatori stated that “Some days are easier than others to have a positive attitude towards school and learning. Most days are just trying to get through the school day.” With a six-hour school day and having to be online for most of that time, getting through the day can be tiring.

Lastly, students were asked the nostalgic question of what they miss most about their life at YHS before COVID-19. “I miss being able to hang out with my friends and teammates at a closer range because I believe there is something more personal and there is more connection if you can actually see and talk to your friends without any sort of hindrance. What I miss the most is the connection and bonds that are formed when we are actually in school and the socialization aspect of school because I believe it is very important to the character of the students and even the school,” said Campana. Many students agree that it’s difficult not seeing and spending time with their friends. It’s easier to connect and have fun with peers when you’re face to face and goofing around.

YHS Principal, Mr. DeGennaro, was also interviewed on the matter. “Yes, our full remote enrollment numbers have steadily increased since Thanksgiving. As of today (1/29/21) we have 545 fully remote students. With the quarter/semester changing Monday, February 1, we are expecting 65 students returning to hybrid,” said Mr. DeGennaro. “I think it has been difficult for all adults and students. We want to work with our students in a traditional setting and give each student a positive, enriching experience. Under the current circumstances, it is challenging to do that. I applaud our students and teachers for successfully working through these unprecedented times.” The hybrid to remote switch has taken a toll on the adults of the building as well.

When asked if there was a specific reason as to why students were switching, the principal responded, “Various reasons:  personal/family health, lack of school social experience, avoiding being quarantined to participate in activities are the most common.”

Many students and parents are wondering how next year will look if the pandemic continues. Additionally, Mr. DeGennaro was asked if the sudden change in numbers associated with the different learning models affects the school’s idea of how classes will look in the future. “I hope we will return to a level of normalcy. We will follow the guidelines that we are mandated to follow.” Now that the vaccine has come out, many people are hoping for a slow recovery to normalcy, “…maybe we can get back to no longer having hybrid. At some point, I certainly want to have all students return to our traditional model.”

Being in the midst of a pandemic has been difficult. YHS has taken many precautions to assure students’ safety, such as masks, portable sinks, signs, barriers in the cafeteria, and social distancing. Some students have switched to remote learning, from hybrid, since the pandemic has brought them stress and uneasiness. Students feel as if there isn’t much to motivate them, and they miss human contact. There is no perfect learning model; hybrid has its benefits and drawbacks, as does remote learning. However, we must make the best of the situation we’ve been put in. The more we stay safe, socially distanced, and wear masks, the faster this nightmare will end.