Student Voices: Adjusting to online learning amid pandemic

Marie Godderis” width=
Courtesy of Marie Godderis
Marie Godderis is heading into a senior year at Los Altos High School that no one could have predicted a year ago.

Around this time last year, I was eager to reunite with classmates, meet new teachers and peers, and transition into the back-to-school routine. But this year, things are quite different.

When schools closed in March because of COVID-19, I never expected that they wouldn’t reopen even six months later.

As a senior at Los Altos High School, there are many uncertainties regarding the upcoming school year. Will we miss out on a few weeks, months or the entire year? How will it impact our curriculum, our college opportunities and, ultimately, the career path ahead of us?

I am grateful that the school board is taking the right safety measures through a virtual start to the school year, but it will continue to be a hurdle to tackle. I certainly miss interactions with my peers and teachers, and the diverse voices of those around me during the passing period from one class to another.

School is more than just standard learning, and a large aspect that virtual learning lacks is the hands-on engagement with peers and teachers, as well as the transfer of knowledge, the development of skills and becoming young adults who can play a positive and constructive role in society. Distance learning may be adequate to achieve knowledge transfer, but the development of practical skills and growing as members of a society is more challenging. It is much more difficult to show engagement and develop connections through a computer screen than a live classroom setting. Learning by observing, interacting, debating, listening and being part of a group of peers will be harder to accomplish.

Although I am fortunate to be an independent learner and self-starter, I know that for many students it is difficult to stay motivated when school takes place online – and not all students have equal access to an adequate study environment and technology. Normally, the school district has ample resources, but the current situation complicates the logistics to access them. I am thankful for the instructors and administration, as well as all students and community members, who are working hard to accommodate everyone.

In addition, the college application process for seniors has changed due to COVID-19. Many colleges have eliminated the standardized test requirement, and I have done most of my college “visits” virtually. I hope we will have a chance to return to campus sometime before graduation. But for now, we are holding on tight and wishing for a strong virtual learning experience for all.

It has been, and will continue to be, an adjustment for us all. As discussions continue in community forums about the near future amid the pandemic, it is important to stay open-minded. Thank someone for their efforts to make the best out of this situation. It’s a balancing act for everyone – hold on tight and take it day by day.

Marie Godderis is a Town Crier intern and Los Altos High School senior.

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