Hybrid Learning: A New Challenge: by Eve Brown-Ryder

Over the past month, there has been a lot of talk about switching from remote learning to a new hybrid model. The hybrid plan calls for students to be split in half alphabetically with the first group going to the school Monday and Tuesday while the second group attending Thursday and Friday. Wednesday will remain an extra help day. The two days a group does not physically go to school will be for remote learning. However, this plan has been delayed due to rising coronavirus case numbers.

While it seems like a good plan to take steps towards normalcy, the student body at Memorial High School is not completely on board. A survey regarding hybrid learning was distributed to students of all grades and yielded 230 responses. 39.1% of responses were from freshmen, 27% from seniors, 20.9% sophomores, and 13% from juniors. Of these 230 voices, 10% had not even heard of hybrid learning. Even though most participants had heard of it, only 44.8% actually felt prepared for the transition. An almost equal amount, 43%, said they were not prepared to return to any face to face learning, and the other 12.2% were somewhere in the middle.

Plenty of participants also shared their thoughts about hybrid learning in a long answer format. Many had simple sentiments of not wanting to go back or, alternatively, being excited to return. Some participants provided well thought out answers and gave permission for their quotes to be used. For diversity’s sake, one significant quote from each grade was selected for use.

A freshman named Colby Hales said, “The most information that I have read about the hybrid model so far has been in the prompt for this survey. Up until now, I have not been informed on what hybrid looks like and all the information that I have [recieved] has been purely from speculation. Also, the school district hasn’t given us any reason to even consider the idea of going back to school if (from what I have heard) the teachers are still doing the same thing, i.e. Google Classroom assignments and Google Meets. Why go back to school to do virtually the same thing that I’m doing at home and potentially expose myself to the virus? It just doesn’t make any sense. If there is more information… then I haven’t seen it or heard it. … I feel that information regarding the hybrid model should be extremely easy to find and, in my opinion, be on the main page or at least have a link on the main page of the [school] website. All in all, my main concern is that most students and parents have been ill-informed on… the hybrid learning model. This lack of information should be resolved as soon as possible. My intent in writing this is not to criticize the school district or Memorial High School, as I understand that this is a very challenging time, but as a request for more information.”

Sophomore, Jazmin Rivera, shared, “I think that hybrid learning would be easier for… students that live in busy households like myself. It’s important to have a proper working and learning environment even if it’s only for a few days. It’s hard to focus on school and really understand the main subject with… other home responsibilities going on. I feel that online isn’t really teaching me or benefiting me in any way because we’re just sitting in front of computers, listening to what the teachers have to say… then forget[ting] the information. I think it’d be much easier to be in class, focus, and ask any necessary questions in order for us to understand and possibly memorize the topic.”

An anonymous junior expressed that “I am very worried about how strictly sanitation rules will be enforced. Today during the PSAT, I saw many students with masks completely under their noses (defeating the purpose of the mask entirely) and some students taking them off immediately after they went… into the courtyard area. I am also concerned about the one-way hallway rules in regards to getting to class on time, especially if we will still only have four minutes between each class. Additionally, it is impossible to expect everyone to actually stay six feet apart particularly in the hallways, and even if people were to follow that rule there will always be certain students who walk incredibly slow and will be blocking the way for anybody to be able to walk around them in the hallways, causing many students to be late to their classes. With the hybrid model, it will also never entirely be fair when taking tests. The students [that are] home on that day will have an advantage because they will be in a more comfortable environment without having to worry about distractions in school and the general pressure of knowing the teacher and other students will be watching you as you take the test. I feel that going back to school will cause an unnecessary spike in cases of the virus and will not truly provide anything more than what the virtual learning we are doing now can provide, because half of the class will always be online while the other half is in class.”

Finally, Grace Urlaub, a senior, commented, “I personally am unsure if it is completely safe to send everyone back. Since the school year began, even with no students on campus, there were a few mentioned cases so I can’t imagine what it will be like once students return. Plenty of schools in the state who have attempted hybrid learning have [returned to] remote, so I don’t know if it is a good idea.”

If the survey has revealed one thing, it is that there are plenty of mixed feelings about sending students back into the building. Since the district has postponed plans for enforcing hybrid learning at the high school level, there is still time for the kinks to be worked out. The important thing to remember, though, is that this is new for everyone and it is not uncommon to feel left in the dark or unprepared. The district, teachers, parents, and students need to communicate and be as understanding as possible to make this transition as smooth as can be.

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