New Normal, New Problems

For+the+past+few+weeks%2C+many+students+at+West+High+have+been+struggling+to+adjust+to+the+changes+that+come+with+virtual+learning.+Photo+by+Alexssa+Takeda+%2810%29.+

For the past few weeks, many students at West High have been struggling to adjust to the changes that come with virtual learning. Photo by Alexssa Takeda (10).

Alexssa Takeda, Staff Writer

   Due to the current pandemic, many students worldwide have transitioned from groggy mornings, skipped breakfasts, and rushed school rides, to simply hopping onto Zoom calls just a few steps from their bed. But while this virtual setting seems to be an easier option for students, it has become quite clear that this year has brought a few new challenges.  

   Most students remember that first day of high school when we were nervous with anticipation but also excited about the great opportunities this new campus could offer. Unfortunately, this year’s freshmen didn’t have the opportunity to get a feel for West’s community, leaving some feeling like an outsider. One of West High’s freshmen expressed, “I was pretty sad that I couldn’t have my first year of high school in person, and be able to see my friends. I was really looking forward to meeting new people and joining clubs.” 

   Other students have also reported that they have felt less motivated when it comes to doing their work or being productive. Student Jeffrey Yum (12) proposes that this is due to the online setting. He explains, “I believe some of the difficulty could be attributed to the virtual conditions, as students are used to that “back-to-school” feeling and it was hard to achieve that at home.” 

   After a few months of summer, many students are excited to head back to class because it gives structure to the day and allows them to interact with people regularly. But since they never experience this change of scenery with virtual classes, the excitement never comes. This, mixed with the many distractions in students’ homes such as noisy parents or using phones during class, has made it harder for students to stay on track. 

   Another issue can be found in the school schedule. Since the beginning of the school year there have been three separate schedules. Students such as Gavin Piedra (11) aren’t satisfied with this modification. He explained, “The combined Wednesday workday is also frustrating since not much can be done in the first place.” On Wednesday, each class lasts 35 minutes instead of the usual 75 minutes. The amount of work teachers and students can complete within this time frame is very limited. Adding a tight time restraint to the already demanding and sometimes unmotivating class environment has made learning quite difficult. 

   But surprisingly, there have been multiple unexpected advantages to this new way of learning. An implemented change this year is that the eight o’clock start time has been pushed back to nine, allowing students to meet the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep, which in previous years seemed impossible. 

   In addition, online school gives students the time to reflect and better themselves. Piedra expressed, “I hope students can invest more in their personal life and themselves as people outside of academics if they are in a position to, especially in regards to mental health and their community.” Social isolation is an ongoing issue throughout these strange times. With the dramatic shift from seeing friends every day to staring at a screen for hours on end, it can leave students feeling alone. It is easy to feel lost. So while students’ academics are important, taking the time to care for themselves is just as critical.