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Whirlwind of views arrive with announcement of hybrid schedule

After more than five weeks of full distance learning, students will soon have the opportunity to meet in person. Photo by Juhan Sonin

Just over a month after Bear River adopted the reformed distance learning format, students report mixed thoughts on their experiences with online schooling.

Bear River announced their continuation with distance learning for the first quarter of the 2020-21 school year on July 22, and the decision was met with a slew of differing views and opinions from students, families, and the community. The announcement of Bear River beginning to utilize a hybrid schedule on October 12 was again met with a wide range of views and opinions among students.

Students such as Juniors Ryan Potts and Mariah Crandall had similar thoughts regarding the long passing periods that are a part of distance learning.

“I do like the distance learning format as I like the ability to choose how to spend my time with my classes, and it allows me to have it be a little more personalized,” said Potts. “That being said the amount of work is difficult to balance between each class and I think that’s been something that has made it hard to not only stay on track, but learn the material as well.” 

“I like it because it provides me time to take breaks and plan out my day,” said Crandall. “It [allows] me to have more to do with my day than school.”

As for Freshman Greta Barrieau, she expressed her own outlook, focusing on both the positives and negatives.

“I think the distance learning format is okay,” she said. “I know teachers are trying their best, but I really dislike Zooming. I like that we have Wednesdays for homework though.”

She also commented how it felt to enter into a new school during a time of distance learning.

“It’s definitely not the same,” she said. “I miss meeting people face-to-face, and it took away a lot of excitement from starting high school. But it’s nice having the chance to work with teachers one-on-one [during their] office hours.”

However, some students expressed differing opinions about distance learning, such as Jolie Hurd, a junior.

“I feel as if there is no making the experience better until we can be back in school on-campus,” she said. “Trying to learn new topics on a computer is almost impossible and needs to be done in person … [I’ve noticed that] our teachers are assigning more homework but giving us less time to do it, … [and] I strongly believe that if we go back into school, the grades of students would not only go up but would sky rocket.”

Sara Noah, Bear River English and Drama teacher shared her thoughts on distance learning.

“I don’t like distance learning very much,” she said. “I got into teaching because I love encouraging and building relationships with young people.”

She continued to share her sadness that the Bear River Fall play production will not be happening this school year.

“I’ve been directing and producing at least one show a year for 30 years!” she said. “This will be my first school year (from last spring to this fall) where I haven’t produced and directed a show.  I miss that bonding and creative time.”

Distance learning has had their difficulties, as mentioned by some students. 

“I don’t like distance learning because you can’t really get much help,” said Senior Amber Kazca. “The difficult part is having [a] WiFi connection error. Like how are you supposed to email your teacher the issue [if you don’t have WiFi]?”

To combat this problem, Bear River High School has provided the campus as a workplace for a limited number of students who don’t have secure access to the internet to complete their school work. The school WiFi connection has also been extended to include the entirety of the school’s parking lot for students who are able to work from their cars.

Noah Dunhower, another senior, and Morgan Peterson, a junior, both expressed frustration with the technical difficulties that have made this year harder for them.

“I think some teachers still have some trouble using some technology and things some classes just seem more unprepared than others,” said Dunhower. “Many peoples’ chromebooks have just randomly stopped working, including mine. All these tech issues and an IPR at the same time just seems like a bad combination.”

“Sometimes when I try to submit my work, it disappears and it’s not my fault,” said Peterson. “ … Some difficulties are [that] teachers don’t understand that sometimes my chromebook stops working or I don’t have internet all the time, so I do my work and still get marked for it being late.”

With school being at-home, Crandall expressed her difficulties with outside distractions in her work environment and the contrast of finding support within her teachers.

“It’s difficult to pay attention, but teachers can always help with my difficulties,” said Crandall.

Mrs. Noah also provided her own input on the difficulties of establishing student-teacher relationships that she cherishes.

“The greatest challenges for me are not being able to build relationships with students, the feeling that I’m teaching to a blank wall, and the frustration with trying to plan for this very different kind of learning,” said Mrs. Noah. “[But on the bright side], I never have to tell kids to stop talking while I’m teaching!” 

On the other hand, she described how this learning format could have benefited students.

“This type of learning system fosters a great need for independence, which I think many young people crave, but are not sure how to go about it,” she said. “Students, especially Juniors and Seniors (who I teach mostly) are heading into the adult world, where they will have to figure out things like deadlines, scheduling, and what expectations are. This is a great, although challenging, way to learn how to figure out how to get things done on one’s own.”

Barrieau also expressed a similar optimistic account of the past few months.

“I would describe this year as a learning experience,” she said. “I have gotten into more outdoor activities and started new projects. For school, I would say it’s been eye opening to see how much I miss actually going to school and especially sports and community. I miss learning in-person and doing assignments [on paper].”

Dunhower noted the uncertainties of this time and how this may have a connection to the difficulties he finds while learning through a screen.

“I feel like since March, things have just gotten worse in some ways and better in others,” he said. “ … There’s a lot of inconsistency nowadays, especially with online learning. Some teachers and students are obviously more prepared than others … Hopefully we’re able to go back soon so we can finish this year off stronger than we started it.”

Mrs. Noah realized these difficulties many students face with the transition into a new format of learning and expressed her pride in students’ ability to adjust to the drastic changes.

“Despite the huge challenges of completely changing how we do school, I’m so proud of SO MANY of my students, who are plugging away, getting quality work done, and asking questions when they need help,” she said. “Let’s hear it for Bruin Grit!!!”

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Whirlwind of views arrive with announcement of hybrid schedule