On Thursday, March 12, students and teachers got the news that they would be out of school for three weeks starting the next Monday, March 16, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. North Carolina governor Roy Cooper extended this time away from school until May 15, caused by the increasing severity of the virus in the US.
For the CHCCS district, the first two weeks consisted of three teacher workdays and an early spring break, with online learning starting on March 30. The first two weeks of online learning were called Phase I, lasting until April 10. During these weeks teachers weren’t allowed to give grades or deadlines, and were only supposed to post review material, to give students time to acclimate to online learning or sort out any issues they may have had.
Phase II began on April 13, and is intended to last until May 15, the supposed last day of online learning. This might be extended though, as the district and state doesn’t know if students and teachers will be able to return to physical school due to COVID-19. Nineteen other states, such as California and Virginia have extended their school closures throughout the rest of the school year.
Teachers and students have had to learn how to adapt to online school, transitioning away from a traditional classroom setting, which can be difficult.
Jerrod McConnell, CHS AP United States History and Civics teacher is missing communication with students.
“Teachers chose the career to help each student holistically. In the absence of true communication, supporting each student becomes much more difficult,” McConnell said, via email.
Of course, online learning comes with drawbacks and benefits. Arwen Helms, CHS junior thinks online learning is working, despite some issues.
“I like the ability to work at my own pace and set my own schedule. As a night owl, it’s nice to be able to sleep in a little more and maybe do some work at night. I’m not a huge fan of some online learning assignments, but on the whole I think it’s working well,” Helms said, via email.
Online learning is allowing students to work at their own pace and go through assignments when they want to, but having all of their assignments posted at the beginning of the week can be a bit overwhelming.
Ky Tanella, CHS junior, likes working at their own pace, but acknowledges that it can become a bit intense.
“It can be confusing when there are a lot of assignments posted at once and the week overviews can get a little stressful,” Tanella said, via email.
Another major change for many students is that the AP exams will be taken at home, online and only 45 minutes long. This is a big shift from regular AP testing which can take upwards of four hours for some classes. CollegeBoard and AP teachers have been scrambling to prepare their students for the exams, with more resources available online and webinars to help students and parents understand what will happen.
While acknowledging that it was a necessary move to transition AP testing online, Helms is still skeptical.
“I wouldn’t mind the online format if it were a full length test, but since it’s only a 45-minute FRQ section I have to wonder whether it’ll be an accurate representation of student skills,” Helms said, via email.
Throughout all of these drastic changes, motivation is key for students to do their work, and can sometimes be hard to come by. Many students find that setting a schedule or writing things down in a planner helps them keep track of what they need to do everyday.
“Taking breaks rather than overwhelming myself with everything at once. Making goals to do one assignment and then taking a break is something I’ve found works best,” Tanella said, via email.
It can be hard to take breaks and let yourself breathe, but it will ultimately help in the long run. With all of these big changes to learning and communication, it’s important for both students and teachers to prioritize their health and relationships with others as we navigate these uncharted territories.