Distance Learning proves challenging for both staff and students

Fearing for their family members’ health, hundreds of students choose year-long distance learning option

A+Helping+Hand%3A+Junior+Takeyia+Thompson+sometimes+has+to+leave+her+own+classes+to+assist+her+second+grade+sister%2C+Maliyah%2C+and+must+email+her+teachers+after+class+to+explain+or+ask+questions.

Photo Courtesy of Takeyia Valentine

A Helping Hand: Junior Takeyia Thompson sometimes has to leave her own classes to assist her second grade sister, Maliyah, and must email her teachers after class to explain or ask questions.

Eileen Tran, Art Editor, Social Media Editor

If students had been told a year ago that they would be able to attend class while still in their pajamas — and even still in bed — most students would have jumped at the chance.  Today, however, some admit that they’d rather be on campus, fully dressed, at 7:20, every single day.  

Every student and teacher has had to adjust to this new normal in different ways, with some flourishing and others struggling.

“I feel like I’ve actually been doing better during distance learning because I feel like I have more control of my time, [and] everything is online and sort of dependent on me to show up and do what I have to do,” junior Alissa Cole said. 

While this freedom to manage one’s own time has benefited some students such as Cole, others find that freedom only encourages procrastination and seriously decreases motivation. 

“Distance learning has definitely been a struggle for me; it’s made me a lot more sloppy than I usually am, like in terms of doing my work and doing it on time,” senior Logan Asia said. 

At the start of the school year, students were allowed to choose between doing distance learning all year versus returning to campus on the hybrid system.  Initially, over 800 chose distance learning.  One of the major factors students took into account while deciding whether to opt for distance learning was their families, fearing that they may put their families at risk of infection of Covid-19 by returning to campus. 

“My family influenced my choice,” junior Aliza Paulino said.

Paulino’s parents, one of whom is a nurse who tends to patients with Covid-19, were concerned about the risk of being infected if she returned to school. 

Many students live with large, extended families that would be affected by Covid-19 and others live in families where at least one parent is an essential worker.  High school students like junior Takeyia Thompson also find themselves having to aid their younger siblings in their classes as well. 

“I try to keep my door closed but [my siblings] keep going in and out of my room,” Thompson said. “But I like that I can see what’s going on with them and what they need help with.”

Despite being able to choose between distance learning or a hybrid form at the beginning of the year, all of Bear Creek classes are now online for the foreseeable future.  About 500 students are now signed up to do distance learning all year, even if campus opens up again.  

Many students and staff agree that internet or connection problems have made distance learning more challenging.

“My computer did its job, but my wifi was the one that was stressing up,” Cole said.

One frequent problem students face is having their connection freeze, leaving them stranded and losing connection with their class.  Teachers often receive emails from frantic students who want to explain their absence, so teachers don’t think they are intentionally leaving class. 

“I don’t mind if I get like four or five of those emails and I see kids popping in and out, as a teacher just being able to understand […] their internet is freaking out,” Floral Design and Ag Mechanics teacher Jennifer Garrett said. 

Bear Creek, as well as other Lodi USD schools, offers hotspots for students with internet connection problems or students without internet access.

“My voice when I’m talking is very static-y, so I just went and picked up a hotspot from school,” Asia said. “It’s been way better ever since.”

Students also have been concerned about their workload, with many expressing frustration at being asked to do more work than usual.  The students that are enrolled in AP classes say they get more work than previous students usually would, but most of the students agree that their teachers understand that distance learning is a struggle and have been giving less work. 

“I chose less difficult classes so […] I know the workload for me has been easier,” Cole said.  “My friend, who is in AP classes, seems to be struggling a bit.” 

Though there have been certain incidents, most teachers say they have not experienced many disciplinary issues amongst their students. 

“Personally I have not had any problems with behavior,” Garrett said.

However, on an average day, 3.77% of students don’t attend their classes, yet, this turnout does not appear to be any worse than previous years.

“My second period, I have 15 Fs, and out of those 15 Fs, seven are failing because of attendance,” Earth Science and Environment Science teacher Isabel Cuerpo said. “Those seven never did show up.” 

Most students and staff agree that the amount of screen time has affected them negatively, with many students reporting eye pain and headaches.  To help alleviate the symptoms that come from long hours of screen time, some have invested in blue light glasses, which help filter out the blue light emitted from screens.

Calculating: In Eric Vallecillo’s AP Calculus AB class, students listen as he explains the day’s lesson on derivatives before they move to their breakout rooms to work on their daily assignment.

 

“I’ve been getting a lot of headaches lately,” Asia said.  “I’ve had to buy a pair of blue light glasses to help a little bit.”  

Distance learning has been a struggle for almost everyone and each person has a different way of adapting.  Students are encouraged to talk with their teacher if they have any problems with distance learning and remember that many teachers are also struggling with the new learning platform. 

“It’s hard, it’s really hard,” Cuerpo said.

Contributors: Autumn Kong (Feature Editor, Social Media Editor), Cheyenne Taylor (Staff Writer)