Nationwide COVID-19 has affected schools in unimaginable ways, for both teachers and students. The split between E- learning and in school learning was a major shift from traditional teaching. Now, schools struggle to stay on track while going through this stressful and complicated transition.
After the Coronavirus pandemic put a stop to the in-person 2019-2020 school year, the Hillsborough County school board announced their plans to reopen schools. The quick re-opening of full-time school in August caused many heads to nod in disapproval.
For Art teacher Kristin Watkinson, teaching online immediately was especially challenging.
“Opening schools to begin with was…rushed and unplanned,” Watkinson said.
With classes splitting to half online, hands on classes such as Art had to take a trip down an unknown road, all while teachers are trying to find a way to properly teach both groups at the best of their abilities.
“With my online classes a lot of kids are lacking motivation to do what they are required to do,” Math teacher Yvette Schneider said.
Teachers nationwide are finding that a large majority of student grades and motivation to do work are decreasing rapidly. On top of that some students have even lost touch with schools completely.
“Being home lends itself to being lazy,” Schneider said.
The difficult workload paired with the lack of motivation from students doing school online has negative effects on teachers and students alike.
“I have a lot of redundant work…and I never did before.” Schneider said, “Most people [students] are much more stressed than they ever were before.”
Samantha Bacallao, a junior at Steinbrenner high school says the split was a direct source to this new stress.
“Even in school learners are confused because most things can’t be turned in on paper. Everything is half online, half in person, and it’s very confusing,” Bacallao said.
Conversely, there are a lot of technological challenges that come with teaching in the pandemic. Teachers responsible for in school classes are limited to the number of physical papers they hand out to students, making it crucial for most, if not every student, to have internet access.
“It’s funny because just a few months ago teachers were yelling at you to put your electronics away, now they are a vital part of our everyday learning schedule,” Bacallao said.
“For the arts, I have… zero suggestions on how to handle materials,” Watkinson said.
The lack of direction and instruction for teachers is causing a great shift on how they would normally do things in the classroom.
“Right now, I mean, it’s not even about teaching art…it’s just…giving them something to do so they can feel successful,” Watkinson said.
It also becomes even harder for these teachers to form connections with their students through a screen alone.
“Right now, I’m just trying to get the kids to talk to me,” Watkinson said, “I’m just trying to have a relationship with my students.”
With Canvas as the new main learning platform for teaching classes, the struggle for teachers and students for the most part increases.
“My students don’t want to open their phone for Canvas so it’s not helpful,” Watkinson stated, “It’s double the work for no reason.”
When asked if she liked the Canvas app, Schneider was quick to answer.
“No not at all. Maybe I’ll see the benefits next year they say because it saves from year to year, but right now most teachers think of it as a big headache,” Schneider said.
Like other counties across the country, Schneider had hoped for an alternative plan.
“I think it would be better if we had more of, what they call a hybrid system, where there are fewer kids in the class,” Schneider said.
To decrease the size of kids in a classroom Schneider states her support for kids only coming to school two times a week, something that is working successfully in other parts of the country.
According to an article from the New York Times, a school plan in Seattle, for example, allows students to attend school in person only once or twice a week. On the other hand, students in Omaha alternate between Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other half attends on Thursdays and Fridays. This plan has been effective throughout the city.
So far, the adjustment to school live during a pandemic has been rough, but many students and teachers are optimistic for the coming months. Hopefully, schools can adapt to the new ways of teaching and find a way to maintain connection and purposeful class time with their students.
Daniela Rodriguez // Staff Writer