Online learning served as the backbone of education during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was loved by some, and hated by others. Now in 2022, it continues to loom over the heads of students, but not just for social distancing reasons.
Short term online learning is not an effective method of instruction, and should be avoided when possible. Neither students nor teachers get the same outcome in a few days online as they would in person. Long term online learning has different effects because students and teachers have the time to adapt.
First semester exams were interrupted by a snowstorm at the beginning of this year, and none of that time was spent virtually. There is enough instructional time as a whole this year that the days missed did not have to be added on to the end of the school year. However, that extra instructional time only covered three school days, which have been spent.
School district officials have said that online learning may be an option if weather prevents in-person school in the future. Many students aren’t pleased with this information. It seems impractical to designate an online learning day when not all students may have access to the internet due to the bad weather.
However, if more snow were to happen, the last day of school would most likely have to be pushed back since there are no built in snow days. Though online learning would prevent that, students would prefer not to be online if possible.
The 2022-23 WSFCS calendar does provide four built-in snow days as it had previous to this year. There shouldn’t be questions about making-up missed days like there have been this year.
Also in January, a fertilizer plant in Winston-Salem caught on fire. Given the fear of an explosion due to chemicals in the facility, thousands were forced to evacuate a designated area. North Hills Elementary was within the evacuation zone.
The morning after the fire, students had to do online learning from wherever they evacuated to (if they had evacuated.) Grabbing school supplies and Chromebooks may not have been the top priority for many parents who were evacuating their families. Additionally, a few excused days off of school for those students would show compassion for the stressful situation.
For students at William Fox Elementary in Richmond, Virginia, online learning will be imperative . The 110-year-old school caught fire in early February, and the damages will prevent students from attending in-person school. This is an example of how online learning would be beneficial in long term situations.
Another appropriate time for students to utilize online learning would be while quarantining at home.
Teachers are required to keep their Canvas pages up to date with material being taught in class so students at home can do their best to keep up with the work they are missing.
It would be beneficial for a quarantined student to ask to join a Zoom meeting and listen in to the class discussions if they are feeling well enough to do so, especially for auditory learners.
And finally, it would obviously be appropriate and necessary to do online learning if COVID-19 cases were to spike again and schools close down.
While there are scenarios when online learning is without a doubt necessary, it isn’t a solution to every situation. Whether it is realized or not, school from a screen hinders students from reaching their full learning potential.