School Life in Times of Quarantine

Photo Credit: Safia Jaleel '21

Photo Credit: Safia Jaleel ’21

School Life in Times of Quarantine is the first of an ongoing series of articles that will explore how the coronavirus and distance learning have impacted our SHC school community.

The novel coronavirus has swept our student body into a highly unprecedented lifestyle. Many underestimated the severity of COVID-19 and its impacts on our community. What seemed like a distant horizon is suddenly upon us in rogue waves— the closing of school, social distancing, and as of midnight on March 17th, 2020, mandated sheltering in place. These significant measures are extremely necessary but have left many in a state of perpetual anxiety. Some have even described feeling as if an apocalypse is upon us. The level of adaptation asked of everyone this week has been monumental, as many aspects of our lives have been upturned. Regardless, we are resilient. Our teachers and administrators have been working hard to continue our education with the implementation of “distance learning.” This is an adjustment period for everyone, and with that comes discomfort. Students and teachers have a plethora of viewpoints on how distance learning impacts them through these unconventional times. From an Instagram poll conducted of the student body — of which 200 responded — a concerning picture emerges. 72% of students believe they are getting a heavier workload than during regular school and 77% are feeling overwhelmed by deadlines. 

We asked the SHC community how they are feeling thus far. Here is what they have to say:

“I’m worried about kids who don’t have somewhere to focus at home.” -Mimi Baxter, ’21

I’ve been a student in an online class before, but I’ve never been a teacher of an online class.  Teaching online is a lot less fun. You miss out on the relationships you build and tangents (and sometimes distractions) that make teaching fun.  You miss the feedback from students that help you become a better teacher.” -Mr. Le (Science)

“We can rise to the occasion and we will. It won’t be easy, but in community, we can do this. It requires flexibility, open lines of feedback, and lots and lots of empathy and patience. This is a learning curve for our entire community. So far, I have been impressed by our AdTeam’s response to questions, and our Counseling Departments communication to teachers and students. As they say, it takes a village…and that very much includes our student voices on how this Distance Learning is going.” -Ms. Kuehl (English)

“I would rather do virtual class videos than assigning a lot of classwork and homework on top of it because it is a lot of work, and without the same structure of school, it is harder to complete. It does not encourage healthy habits because if I want to finish by a deadline, I can’t go take a break or take a walk.” -Eleda West, ’21

“They [teachers] should limit the amount of work per class so that students can be done sooner and actually move around. I’ve had many people complain that they are in physical pain due to lack of movement.” -Valentina Kornach, ’21

“Everything should be due at midnight, not during the day. Try to have fewer big assignments rather than many small ones. Week-long projects are perfect.” -Alec Wallace, ’22

“A lot of teachers are giving us busy work that isn’t actually teaching us anything, just wasting our time and energy.” -Amira Garvey, ’20

“I find myself looking at my computer for 9 hours a day, and I feel sick.” -Sofia Fighera, ’21

“I miss my teachers but not the ones who give a bunch of busywork.” -Robin Bogan, ’20

“I know and appreciate the effort that my students are putting forth, and I think, in the long run, all of us, teachers and students alike, will adjust and do the very best we can under these trying and unprecedented times.” Mr. Sansoe (History)

In the face of an existential threat, it would be naive to suggest that we would be able to switch to a new model of learning perfectly and without disruption — and we are all grateful for the faculty’s tremendous efforts to make it smooth sailing.  To continue in that trend, a majority of the student body stated that classwork and homework should not be due at various points throughout the day, as this can be detrimental to student health. Those in stressful home environments often find it hard to focus on random “busy work” assignments. Their solutions included projects and discussion posts with midnight deadlines. This way, students can get up for a stretch and some fresh air instead of sitting in one place for hours, hunched over a screen. Many teachers have already started moving in this direction. With that being said, stay safe, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.