Reflecting on a Pandemic School Year

Pictute Credit: Chapin Student Press Network

As we approach the end of the academic year, many schools across the country are still operating in a hybrid virtual and on-campus format. Some students have opted to continue exclusively through the virtual format. Over the last year, the fluidity and uncertainty of the school learning environment have contributed to the stress and social isolation that students have experienced throughout the evolving coronavirus pandemic. 

When students learn online, the boundary between school and home becomes blurred and adds to the perception that the workload is continuous and greater than when students were learning on campus. Annie, a middle school student in Orange County, California, stated, “I think teachers are actually requiring us to do more schoolwork because they think we are always home and have more time than pre-COVID.”  For some schools, the online school day was compressed into 3 hours, compared to a normal 6 or 7 hour day pre-pandemic. As a result, expectations for independent learning and homework increased. 

The other challenges of online schooling is the limitation in the ability to collaborate with other students on projects and engage in meaningful discussion. Annie commented, “I missed the energy of being in the classroom instead of staring at my computer screen all day. I also think the online school experience has increased social anxiety for not just myself but a lot of my classmates and friends.” 

However, some students have enjoyed the online learning environment. Josephine, another middle school student from the same school, said “I like both online and in-person learning the same. When I’m online, I am much more efficient with completing my school work because there are not as many classroom distractions.” 

While the coronavirus pandemic forced the whole world to adapt to virtual forms of work and school, many students are eager to get back to pre-pandemic school life as they are beginning to notice the toll online learning has taken on social and emotional wellbeing. 

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