Local Students Have Had Enough Of The “Unprecedented” Year
• Adaptability to changing circumstances proves valuable to local students.
The word “unprecedented” has become a staple in the many vocabularies over the past year. As the world has been turned upside down by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, everyone’s way of life has been dramatically changed, thus situations have become “unprecedented”. This past school year is no exception.
Students and faculty have had to adapt to a school year like no other. As summer approaches for the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District (PVPUSD) within the next week, students have begun to reflect on how wild their recent academic experience has been.
I am no exception, and as my junior year of high school comes to a close, I am more relieved than ever to put my “unprecedented year” behind me.
The District has announced that all high schools would be back in person for those who are part of the hybrid program on April 5, and many students arrived back on campus once again on April 12.
This hybrid system allowed for students to attend school in-person four days a week, with Wednesdays being asynchronous (online) for all. A large handful of students did not opt for the hybrid system, however, choosing the distance learning (DLA) option instead. DLA students have remained online, keeping their learning consistent with the first seven months of school. Teachers have, for the most part, adjusted to this dual-teaching quite well, having a camera pointed at the class to give online students a sliver of the in-classroom feeling.
Still, it has been difficult to learn this way. Teachers cannot teach to two places at once and have had to alternate between speaking directly to the online call and speaking to those in the classroom.
In my personal experience, this has not been too difficult, and as a DLA student I still feel I have been given a similar quality of learning to the hybrid students. This is primarily due to the fact that this has only been the situation since April, and most actual instruction was finished by then, or at least winding down.
Some classes were not near the end of instruction, and those students have had a more difficult time learning all the material they needed to with this odd format.
Regardless of whether a student is currently DLA or hybrid, all students were taught solely online for the majority of the school year. This was very new to everyone, and there has been a much heavier emphasis on projects as assessments were assigned far less than during a “normal” year.
Some teachers even got rid of assigning tests altogether, knowing the unlimited access to the internet and other resources would lead to many more students cheating. Thus, some teachers resorted to open-note and open-book tests and quizzes, some teachers used lockdown browsers or watched students’ eye movement over the camera, some teachers required specific camera angles to monitor students’ desks and some teachers simply just did not assign assessments.
In previous years, tests have been a large part of a student’s grade, therefore this shift caused the grades to be largely determined by projects, homework and participation. Again, it has varied by teacher, but, in my experience, participation was stressed greatly.
If we did not participate, we would lose points and our grades would drop dramatically. Naturally, this caused many issues for people, as participating in class is often anxiety-inducing and difficult to do.
Whether teachers will continue with this emphasis on participation is unclear, and there is great uncertainty about how easy the shift back to normalcy will be in the following school year and if the changes in the style of teaching will remain, or if it was all temporary.
Though the 2021-22 school year is not confirmed to be fully in-person, it seems to be headed in that direction. As vaccines are being distributed to people across the country at a rapid pace, and as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted at an equally fast pace, people are optimistic about a quick return to normalcy.
There are many uncertainties, of course, for some people refuse to receive the vaccine, making herd immunity seem a bit less possible, and there is the looming possibility that everything can change very quickly.
After the past year we have all had, everyone has been bracing themselves for constant changes, and we have all adapted to accepting that the future is largely unknown. Still, the success of the hybrid system and having a large number of students on campus over the past few weeks has left people hopeful for at least a semi-normal school year.
As both the graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 have not had a “normal” senior year with all the festivities that come along with it, it is my hope that my class, the class of 2022, will be back on campus and able to enjoy the stereotypical senior experience the past two senior classes have missed out on.
As much as going to school in my pajamas and being able to lay in bed during passing periods has been great, I am ready to return to campus and spend my final year of high school the way I have always dreamed of experiencing it.
This past year has been incredibly tough, and all students, regardless of their grade or the rigor of their classes, are incredibly resilient to have made it through this difficult, unprecedented school year.