• Jenna Black

How Students Really feel about Online School

As I’m sure we’re all very aware (thank you, @halifaxnoise), the second wave of Covid-19 has hit Halifax, and it’s hitting hard. With Citadel located in central Halifax, surrounded by new exposures every day, it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before the switch to online learning is made. As Premier Stephen Mcneil said in last Tuesday’s briefing, it’s “time to take some tough measures”... but what does he mean by this? Closing down gyms and libraries, reducing capacity in restaurants, bars, and stores, and shutting down sports teams appear to be smart ideas, but is it all pointless with schools still open? Will young people and teenagers continue to take the blame for the spread of the virus, while the adults in office sit with the power to make real change? If and when we switch to online schooling, will it be made easily accessible and more organized this year? There seems to be countless questions, and very few clear answers. Because of this, I decided to turn to the intelligent and passionate students of Citadel High School for some insight.

I first spoke to grade 12 IB student Trinity Vatcher. When asked about her preference between in person or online learning, Trinity stated that before all of the new cases this week, she prefered in person learning. However, now that Halifax has a rising number of cases and it is probable that there are students who have been exposed, she thinks that online is “the best way to go”. Next, I asked if she found online school to be effective last year. Trinity stated; “Personally, it was not effective”. Motivation issues seem to be the root of this answer, as she followed up with “but that was probably because of me”. I think most of us can relate to that. When asked about the seemingly inevitable closure of Citadel, Trinity concluded; “I think that we’ll be out of school by the end of next week”.

Next, I spoke to fellow Trollope Times members Julia Droesbeck and Sheida Mousavi. The pair had some very strong opinions on this topic. Both prefered in person learning over online. Sheida stated “I get more from my teachers in school”. When asked if they had found online school effective last year, the answer right away was “no!”. Why was this you may ask? “There was no teaching, it was just putting out assignments”. Both found that even though they did their assignments and kept up with the work, they did not learn anything and felt “screwed” for this year. Next, I asked if they noticed a decline in students attending school, and Julia quickly answered “Yes, I did see some people not coming to school because people are either sick or are too scared to come”. Both Julia and Sheida think that Citadel and other HRM schools will be online by “Christmas break at the latest”. Sheida ended the interview with a powerful statement challenging the government: “If online school is an option, the government needs to take real steps this time.” Wow! You heard it here first, @nsgov.

Finally, I talked to grade 11 IB student and cross country star Isak Hirsch. Isak also prefers in class learning, which seems to be a recurring theme. He stated that he is “able to learn and understand concepts easier when there is in-person interactions with teachers”. He felt that online school was difficult, as he was “expected to learn on his own without the aid of a teacher”. I think most of us can resonate with that. Isak stated; “For me, it was essentially once a week homework that was more or less optional, as well as videos that tried to substitute actual teaching.” Isak also noticed a few people missing class due to cases, but added that it was nothing too extreme (yet). When asked about when he thought schools would move online, his answer coincided with Julia and Sheida’s response of “after Christmas break.”

Thank you to the amazing interviewees! Your responses were very informative and raised a lot of valid points about the education system. Based on what has been shared in our interviews, it seems that the mechanics of online schooling need some serious re-evaluation. But how much more can teachers really do for students? Even now if students want to do their learning from home, for reasons ranging from worry to physical health, teachers are not permitted to give those students online versions of in class assignments so that they can work safely from home. This takes us further up the ladder to the school board and government. If we want to see changes this year, it will be in their hands. It is up to students to make sure our concerns are heard. If you or your peers have any suggestions, comments or concerns about online schooling, you can go to https://www.ednet.ns.ca/contact-us and submit your ideas. Make sure your voice is heard! Also make sure you are wearing masks and sanitizing, and hopefully together we can avoid schools closing, and the curse of online school.