Andrew Greenspun, Grade 11, Journalism Student
As the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation, New York City’s Mayor de
Blasio decided to close all NYC public schools on March 15. Teachers and students had to quickly adjust to this unprecedented situation and move to learning remotely. Common Sense reports.
Without many strict guidelines to follow, it was up to each individual teacher to decide what approach they wanted to take. While some teachers chose to teach “in-person” classes over Zoom, others decided to give out worksheets and assignments without live instruction.
Some students believe HSAS made a good transition to online learning. “Our remote learning system has worked surprisingly well,” said Otto Recondo [’23].
However, Recondo may be in the minority. Based on interviews, most students agree that while it is impossible to create a perfect system, the current system is not adequate and is making learning more difficult.
A common complaint is over the lack of live classes. “I would like more live classes to be offered,” said Mia Penner [‘22]. “It would definitely help everyone feel less lonely if they got to see their teachers and friends every day, even if it’s through a screen.”
Other students are having trouble learning information from worksheets without live instruction. “I think that the teachers who are recording lessons are doing a good job, but we need more structured work time, which the teachers who just give us worksheets don’t provide,” said Kyle Fallon [‘21].
Meanwhile, many students raised concerns about organizing their work in a remote learning environment. Students have to manage their already heavy workload across multiple different platforms: Jupiter grades, Google Classroom, and email. This has proved difficult for some students, who say that the transition to online learning has come with organizational challenges.
A possible solution would be a requirement for all teachers to stick to a single platform for announcements and assignments. Having announcements, assignments, and deadlines on a single platform would resolve a lot of the confusion among students.
Another issue reported by many is the extreme workload. Common Sense found that many teachers are assigning both “classwork” and “homework.” Additionally, some classes that were almost entirely based on in-class work, such as art, now have textbook reading assignments instead.
Brian Ragaishis [‘20] proposed a solution: “One thing that teachers could coordinate is midday deadlines. If many subjects have the same 3 pm deadline, I feel rushed and my work doesn’t reflect my best quality.”
The NYC Department of Education has tried to implement some universal requirements to make the transition to online learning more seamless. In April, the DOE required all schools to start taking attendance, which encourages students to wake up early and get started on their work. The DOE also implemented a system that gives students the option to convert a passing grade to a “Pass” rating that preserves their existing GPA.
While the structure of school in the fall remains uncertain, remote learning will certainly continue to play a large part in education. With an entire summer to plan and prepare, teachers will hopefully work out the kinks of online learning come September. But students will also have to adjust to the new normal and accept that remote learning may not exactly mirror live instruction.