Distance learning taking its toll on students and teachers

Distance learning taking its toll on students and teachers

It is redundant to say that the COVID-19 global pandemic has reoriented all of our lives. Now, more than a year after the coronavirus was labeled a global pandemic, it has taken a toll on all of us. There has been an extreme increase seen in screen time, depression, and anxiety. The lasting effects that our current times will have on us are yet to be seen. 

Ms. Kelly Lawrence, Olympians Advanced Placement Academy (OAPA) coordinator at Olympic Heights, explains, “Educators are beyond exhausted, putting in quadruple the number of preparation and grading hours, and while many students continue to work diligently at learning, others are taking advantage of the system.” Lawrence further dove into the struggles that we are facing this year. For example, widespread cheating, loss of learning, and adverse effects on mental health. 

Many kids and adults alike have been forced into lifestyles that are simply not sustainable for them. Students who were once very active throughout their day may not have the mental bandwidth to sit and stare at a screen for hours on end.  

Although attending school virtually is not ideal, it is a pretty good solution considering our circumstances. While people are suffering illness and loss of family members, we should remember not to take our ability to learn for granted. OH science teacher Mr. Larry Korn explains, “If you take your education seriously then virtual school can be pretty easy. Just do the work assigned by your teacher and stay online with your camera on.”

On the other hand, OH freshman Vasyl Latyk states that “COVID-19 is forcing some of us to attend school virtually every day, which can be very monotonous. It’s hard to get any work done when you’re staring at a screen for 7 plus hours every day.” Latyk’s point of view seems to be shared by quite a few students who attend school virtually. 

Other students however seem to be thriving in an online classroom environment. OH English teacher Ms. Jennifer Lefevre has been observing students in their virtual and in-person environments. She says she has noticed “that some very organized students who were distracted by the social elements in the physical classroom actually do better online.”

In addition to altered learning environments, some students face another challenge. Due to school/parent-enforced COVID restrictions, certain sports and extracurriculars may be heavily restricted. This is causing many students to lead a near-sedentary lifestyle. Looking past physical health, this is something that will have adverse effects on mental health as well. 

Many students find sports to be an escape in their lives. OH freshman Ryan Sacher states, “Those who are very passionate about a sport, might be restricted in playing it. Sports play a huge role in the lives of some of us.” 

However, there is a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. “As more and more people are vaccinated and as numbers drop, we need to get back to the business of brick and mortar, face-to-face schooling,” Lawrence states. Hopefully, this will soon become a reality. Until then, we will have to make the best of a less than ideal situation.