After what has felt like an extended summer vacation, we are finally returning to the classroom! At least… over our screens, that is. The administration has made the decision to start off the year with fully remote learning. Although the future is still relatively uncertain, President Cliff Kling stated that at its earliest, the campus opening date is Sept. 8. This begs the question: how has the news impacted students?
“I’m fine with it, honestly,” said sophomore Alvaro Frias, in regards to vast free time students will now have on their hands. “I think it builds initiative to do things on your own without teachers making you pay attention.” Frias also says he now spends most of his time on calls with his friends. He believes that the change from seeing friends in person to over a screen is tolerable at best, since it can be made up for by playing games together online.
While he seemed to be doing all right learning from home, Frias admitted that he feels that online school isn’t the healthiest learning environment for students. “Seeing people over a screen isn’t the same as doing it in person,” he said. “Because we aren’t physically there, our only interactions come through playing games or calling each other. A whole aspect of social interaction is lost, which I feel can take a toll on someone’s mental health.”
A lot of what Frias said is backed up by common sense. Think about what is missed out on during an in-person conversation versus chatting online. Body language is nearly impossible to pick up. The same goes for smaller changes in someone’s facial expressions, and even their tone of voice. While these are easy to notice in-person, they are a lot harder to reciprocate over text. A single statement can have many meanings to a person if they can only hear tone and inflection. But texting is a whole different ball game. When chatting online, people have plenty of time to reflect on what they want to say and exactly how they want to say it. There are an array of emojis and interjections, like LOL, that help convey how people feel over a conversation, even if all the while they are maintaining a stoic expression behind the screen. Texting online is a case of presenting yourself in a certain way, rather than conveying your true emotions.
Working from home will definitely be a challenge, both in an educational and social sense. But as adaptive as the school has been in regards to the pandemic, so will its students be in adjusting accordingly. At least for the time being.