Students debate in-person vs virtual learning


photo by: Ashley Slaughter

Working during ASP in Alexandra Klobusnik’s room are junior Aspen Hanzak and sophomore Megan Solly. Both girls are wearing masks, as is the dress code requirement for all students and staff this school year in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Even as the number of COVID-19 cases decrease and staff members get vaccinated, a number of students have still decided staying virtual is the best decision for them and their families.   

Freshman Alana Rosser decided staying home was the best choice for her. “I knew that when…COVID cases [were] rising in the United States, that it wasn’t safe for me to go back and forth to school and home and put my high-risk family members in danger,” Rosser said. “Knowing that I can do school from home, while keeping everyone safe and healthy, was my main priority.” 

Although learning virtually from home seems like the safest choice for families, it can also have a negative impact on the quality of students’ education.

Sophomore Josh Brown explained how he has a hard time keeping focused and engaged while participating in online classes. “All of my teachers keep me up to speed but not entirely engaged,” he said. “While they are off addressing the classroom it gets hard to hear them and that makes it hard to be interested. It also comes down to me, where I constantly get distracted during class either by pets, people moving throughout the house, or me distracting myself with other devices, but I always try to keep focus.” 

Some students decided to return to school after a negative experience with Rocket Digital Academy the first semester. Sophomore Courtney Morgan is back in school after doing RDA and concluding that the virtual learning style was not ideal for her. 

“I really like being in person, but since there is a pandemic and I don’t really agree with some of the choices the school has made, I’m happier with being at home.” said Senior Bre Curry. On the other hand, the majority of students decided coming back to school was the best option for them. 

“I definitely believe that I made the right choice to be in person,” said junior Aspen Hanzak, who chose to return to traditional school from the beginning, back in the fall. “I have made so many special connections [this] year that I wouldn’t have made if I were virtual. Virtual school just made it very difficult for me to learn and to keep my focus. I also really disliked not being able to interact with my friends.” 

Hanzak is not the only student who believes online school has affected her personal education and her motivation to complete work and study for summative assessments. 

Senior Bre Curry said she prefers being in person but disagrees with some of the protocols the school has in place. “Overall, I have had a semi-good experience,” she said of virtual learning. “I have had a few teachers kind of just forget I’m here, along with a few other students, and then I feel like I’m behind and not learning.” 

Some students, like freshman Izzy Cooley, prefer online learning still made the decision to come back to school so they did not miss out on the high school experience.

“I prefer online school because I like not having to come in and wake up as early,” Cooley said.  “I just have to get up a half hour before school starts because I don’t need to get fully ready.”

While she noted not wanting to miss out on high school, she added, “I don’t really even get it being in-person because there are so many rules with COVID.” 

Rosser said the social interaction would be worth dealing with the COVID protocols.

“I miss seeing my friends and being able to interact with them everyday, even if it was socially distanced with masks. I also miss having that motivation that I have while in school.”