Learning during hybrid schedule

Refection on Hybrid Learning
Posted on 03/15/2021

By Rainee Chittester

From toilet paper shortages to biological-warfare conspiracy theories, the COVID-19 pandemic was the match that lit the blazing fire known as 2020. While forced solidarity and separation has been a pleasant, productive experience for some, it has also been the source of misery and loneliness for others. No matter what group of the two you fall into, everyone has been subjected to online school, cancelled events, and a completely unfamiliar lifestyle. Despite the chaos, Estrella Foothills students got the chance to reattend school for a few weeks in Fall of 2020, and roughly half of the Wolf Pack are reattending as of February 8th, 2021. As we jump back into in-person classes, I would like to reflect on the brief period of hybrid learning from the perspective of someone who chose to stay home.

Returning to school was a tempting offer. I was immediately reminded of laughing in small groups during class, chatting during passing periods, joking with teachers, and even simply being around people. Experiencing a glimpse of life from before the pandemic sounded like a dream, but reality suddenly hit me. School would consist of being overtly cautious, wiping down tables, and constantly keeping your distance. I found that other students were also bothered by these annoying, yet necessary precautions, which reflects the side effects of essential responsibility: “I dislike having to wear a mask all day, although I know it is important,” sophomore Jordan Karafa said. I knew that school wasn’t going to be like anything that I had ever experienced before, thinking “it’s just not ‘normal,’” like senior Zachary Radloff said. Something as simple as going to lunch was suddenly a disappointment. As junior Valerie Crisp put it, “I have to sit six feet apart from my best friend at lunch.” The best part of those thirty minutes was catching up with buddies and relaxing with your group, and we simply can’t have that back.

While the previous cons are nothing more than petty annoyances, the real worry came from the threat of contracting and spreading COVID-19. Given that every student is entitled to their own opinions, it was inevitable that some students would resist or refuse to comply with the precautions that EFHS was attempting to enforce. “[I dislike] the kids who clearly aren’t taking it seriously. It makes me feel unsafe,” sophomore Chloe Tilden said, mirroring my exact feelings. Some students think that COVID-19 is a hoax, while others disregard masks and social distancing in favor of socializing in a “normal” manner, both ultimately endangering the students around them. Sophomore Livia Blackburn said, “I don’t like being nervous about COVID-19, but that’s inevitable,” showing that the risk is worth it to some students. I have personally been rather cautious about COVID-19 and would have a huge issue with kids messing around and brushing off precautions. The pros of in-person classes were ultimately not worth the cons that accompanied them, so I settled confidently on remaining online.

Even though I had made my decision in favor of staying virtual, there were disadvantages I was bound to face. Instead of waking up early and getting ready for the school day ahead, I found myself waking up ten minutes before my first class and spending each period in my pajamas. On more unfortunate occasions, I would accidentally sleep through my first class altogether. My motivation was on a steep decline and I began to put off assignments for longer and longer. Staying home was taking a toll on my mental health and leaving me uninterested in simple tasks. Sadly, I wasn’t alone: junior Madison Pyle said, “I find myself on my at-home days even without anything in particular to distract me, I just end up sitting in a daze of dissociation while class still presses onward.” This exact feeling has been thoroughly represented on social media and is relatable to millions of students worldwide. This is particularly difficult for students living with immunocompromised individuals, essentially making them sacrifice their mental health for the safety of their families.

At the end of the day, hybrid learning was a short, yet beneficial experience for many students. I admire Foothills for giving their students a choice between continuing virtual learning and returning in person for classes. Trusting your students to make the best choice for their personal situation proved to be the best solution for the Wolf Pack. Hopefully, students will enjoy the new in-person experience, while preserving safety and caution simultaneously.