With Covid cases increasing, questions arise about school returning to remote learning once again. Surrounding schools and districts alike decided to start the semester off virtually due to the recent Covid surge. But it begs the question, which is actually better for the students? A survey was taken by 47 Lockport students to determine the answer.
Switching to online learning was a celebration for some students, and for others it was a major letdown. However, it does have it’s benefits. Online learning offers the ability to learn from the comfort of your own home and also offers plenty of time to do other things that in-person learning would prevent. 77% of the survey-takers said the best part of e-learning was either the comfortability of learning at home or the freedom of having more time outside of the classroom. During the peaks of Covid, learning at home provided protection for students from getting sick or bringing it home to vulnerable family members; this was important to about 5 percent of students. It also gave students a bit of a break from the stress surrounding going to school; 13 percent of students said going to virtual learning actually helped them improve their mental health, giving them a break from other responsibilities and providing them plenty of time to spend working on themselves.
However, some of the benefits aren’t worth the risks caused by online learning. It was a hard transition for some that caused negative effects. Being able to pay attention in school was the number one most difficult issue for students online, followed by lack of motivation, and a hard time understanding the material. While learning in a traditional setting, there are less distractions, and it is easier to be able to pay attention and stay motivated to learn while at school. When this is taken away, it causes hardship for students. 43% of students said their mental health took a toll from virtual learning. Some even went as far to say that they felt depressed and lonely while at home, others said it made them feel stressed and overwhelmed. Online learning also made it difficult to teach subjects that are good for students to socialize in. Classes like gym and lunch were left behind in virtual learning and students weren’t able to connect with others, which is crucial for teenagers going to school.
Traditional in-person learning may be the way to go for some. 94 percent of students said the best part of going to school is being able to socialize and do better in school. Most students find it much easier to learn hands-on versus through a computer screen. Going to school also provides an environment that is entirely created for learning, with less distractions and the ability to ask questions and interact with the classroom. School gives students a sense of community to be around, and students are able to build relationships with others. This is a major benefit that is impossible to have online, and is why so many students pushed so hard for schools to open back up.
Going to school does have its drawbacks though, students who have to quarantine have a hard time keeping up with the in-person classes, and students are much more vulnerable to getting COVID-19 while going to school. The most difficult part of going back to school for students is that it causes them to feel overwhelmed. Since it is a big change from the quietness and simplicity of online learning, it can be a lot to handle. The second is fatigue, school takes a lot of energy and most kids are tired, plus the early start times don’t help too much with this. In-person learning also takes away a lot of freetime for students, during the school week most students’ days are dedicated to going to school then doing their homework for the next day, giving them very little time for themselves.
Now that you know all the pros and cons: Which is better? The two year long debate seems to never end. According to the survey, 60 percent of students prefer going to school in-person, the other 40 percent of them prefer to do school virtually. So, the negative mental health effects aren’t worth the protection of online learning for most students, but for some they would prefer to learn at home instead of the stress of going to school. Unfortunately, there is no good alternative to accommodate all students during this time, but hopefully in the future there will be more stability surrounding school which would be better for everyone.