Students use breakout rooms for collaboration in class on zoom for AP Seminar.

West Essex adjusts to online as ‘the new normal’

As the 2020 school year continues and students are faced with more adversity, people have started to compare the end of the 2019 school year to this year. In March of 2020, students were sent home to continue with “online school” for the rest of the school year. There were many questions as to whether students were learning as much as they could, or if they were slacking off and taking advantage of online learning. 

Students logged on for a maximum of  one or two Google Meet video classes a day, and cameras stayed off. They were given mostly busy work, and school days were all half days. Working from home may come with the benefit of sleeping in and logging onto class from your bed, but it does not mean students are learning enough. 

The beginning of the 2020 school year has been drastically different from online school students experienced last year. Everyone has to log onto each of their zoom classes, with their cameras on, for a full day of learning. There has been less busy work given to students, and more actual work that is helping them learn. 

Students have been assigned more homework than they expected to start the year. There have been complaints about not enough class time to do classwork and then it becomes extra homework. 

“I am getting a little bit more homework than I expected because last year I was given such little amounts,” senior Alexa Houmis said. 

Students have been taught more this time around considering there are classes occurring all day in which attendance is mandatory. If you are not at a zoom meeting, it counts as an absence for that class. 

“Last year was not as challenging, and this year is more strict with being present on Zoom and getting work done on time,” Houmis said. 

Although more zoom classes are occurring, students still seem to have trouble focusing in school. They tend to get distracted and daze off throughout their classes.

“I have not been able to focus,” junior Rob Lasher said. “I have been on my phone a lot and get distracted pretty easily.” 

“My attention span to look at a computer screen is too short and I tend to get distracted more easily and end up going on my phone,” Houmis said.  

All students are eager to get back into school and start learning in person again. They are excited to finally see their teachers and fellow classmates in a real classroom setting. 

“I really miss seeing my friends at school and it will be really nice to finally not look at my computer screen for five hours,” sophomore Haleigh Farese said. Farese said she felt she would be able to learn more from in person classes rather than over Zoom classes.

Most students said they were excited to step back into the hallways after seven months of the building being closed. With a year as unpredictable as 2020, many said that they were hoping to hold on to in-person classes as a way to regain some sense of a regular routine.

“I can’t wait to go back to normal,” Lasher said. 

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