Students reflect on online experience after returning to in-person learning
by Carmela Grimaldi
“I hated it. And now, I can barely pay attention in class,” junior Lukas Hartley said.
During the pandemic, students had to do their school year completely online. Before schools shut down, students were told they were going to get an extra week off during their spring break. But over the two weeks, COVID cases rose to a dangerous level and students had to stay remote for the rest of the school year and the year after.
The decision to shut schools down was made by governor Gretchen Whitmer, but the decision to stay online for the following school year was made by the Holt Public Schools Superintendent David Hornak.
The online school year of 2020-2021 was very different and a big adjustment. Students were to use a laptop to join Google Meets every Monday through Friday and complete their virtual assignments. It was as if paper didn’t exist anymore.
Students opened up about how it felt to have a school year completely online.
“It felt like your whole life revolved around school,” Hartley said. “Where you sleep and relax is now where you do school.”
An inside look at the days online went like this: The day started at 9:00 am with your first hour. The hour lasted until 10:40 am, and second hour began, but then ended at 12:20. From 12:20 to 12:50 was lunch, and third hour went from 12:50-2:30.
The school schedule was split in half, where students would have three hours a day and a thirty-minute lunch. After classes were done, it was time to start working on homework.
Junior Grace Eimers explained how she missed having a social life in person and felt like she was always alone.
“A big pro of online schooling is that I could do the work whenever I wanted,” Eimers said. “But I never got to talk to my friends, and overall just felt lonely.”
Online schooling also made it harder for students to keep their grades up. With all of the distractions and learning on your own time, most grades fell. According to a McKinsey & Company article by Emma Dorn, the school year left students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading. The article also discusses how students in 2021 tested ten points behind in math and nine points behind in reading, compared with matched students in previous words.
Junior Yazmin Crook experienced her GPA dropping.
“I’ve had a 4.0 up until sophomore year,” Crook said. “[After remote schooling], I had a 3.2 which isn’t terrible, but seems low to me because of what I’m used to,” Crook said.
Among the other effects online learning had, another one was the loss of motivation. This went hand in hand with mental health. According to The Beachcomber by Halle Wyatt, over 35 percent of parents were worried about their child’s mental health while they were online. They also conducted an anonymous poll about students’ mental health and found that out of 117 students, 83.1 percent claimed that their mental health decreased and they were struggling with it during online school.
Junior David Leblanch explained how he had no energy to do his work.
“Since assignments were due at 11:59 pm, I would always tell myself I would do it later, but then I never did it,” Leblanch said. “It made me procrastinate a lot.”
As if online schooling wasn’t hard enough, junior Ruben Aldaco also had COVID-19 during the school year. He opened up and said it felt like he was battling two challenges at once.
“While I had COVID, I started ignoring my Google Meets and assignments,” Aldaco said. “I just kept watching all the assignments pile up.”
In an article from KVC Kansas, a study showed that academic stress leads to less well-being and an increased likelihood of developing anxiety or depression. Additionally, students who have academic stress tend to do poorly in school. This shows how this stress can keep kids from doing as well as they could, and how some students would like to go back online to relieve stress, including deadline stress.
And while many students were counting down the days until they could go back into in-person school, junior Yvette Wegryn-Jones was enjoying her time online.
“If the school were to go back online, I would feel so relieved,” Wegryn-Jones said. “School now is just so suffocating.”
Junior Noah Collins also had a positive experience while online.
“I felt like I was happier,” Collins said. “I was able to get more sleep and work at my own pace, which worked really well for me and made my grades go up.”