Learning in a Pandemic: What Has Changed?

     A year into the pandemic, schools are still struggling to safely meet student needs. Like many school systems, Waterville continues to follow a hybrid learning model. The schedule has pros and cons according to students. Many are looking forward to a full return next fall. 

     In hybrid learning, students attend in person classes only part time. They are expected to attend virtually when they are not at school. This schedule began in the fall of 2020 in order to reduce student contact. As a result, there have been fewer cases of COVID-19 in schools. 

     A typical remote day for students at Waterville might include longer lunch breaks and more time in between classes. Many students also say they can attend class from the comfort of their couch. Prior to the pandemic, most students spent upwards of six hours in class with minimal breaks.

     Colette Carillo, a junior at Waterville Senior High School, said she enjoys her current schedule. “Since my school has a hybrid schedule, I almost get a built-åin break every other day,” she said. Other students have agreed that they have more time on their remote days. This is a huge change for students who are used to a full day of classes and after-school activities. 

Cade Rogers, age 14, attends Waterville Junior High School classes from the comforts of his couch.

     With these advantages come many disadvantages. Cade Rogers, an eighth grader at Waterville, said learning is harder from home. “The teachers don’t ask as many questions. They just talk the whole time because classes are shorter. I get less help with school work,” Rogers said. Classroom discussions are shorter as well. Because of this, students have fewer chances to learn from one another. 

     COVID-19 restrictions have made other classes nearly impossible. Gym and music are much different this year at Waterville. Social distancing and masks make it difficult to play sports or sing. Many students report that they miss this part of the day. They look forward to returning to these classes next year. 

     Another complaint from students is lack of motivation. Jacie Richard, a senior, has struggled with this. “I use small rewards to push me to work hard. Homecoming, prom and athletics have all been taken as a result of the pandemic. It makes it difficult to be the same driven student. There is no activity as a reward,” she said. 

     No official announcements have been made about next year. But many students at Waterville are hoping the schedule will return to normal. “There are definitely some aspects of the corona schedule that I will miss,” Carillo said. “But I’m excited to be able to spend time with people the way we used to.”