Updated: Aug 18, 2020
By Victoria Kim
Few weeks after the first COVID-19 breakout in the United States, most boarding school students were sent back home with an uncertainty: Is school opening after break?
Most of us left school campus without knowing anything certain. We didn’t have time to say goodbye to most of our friends, and teachers. We didn’t have an opportunity to pack our belongings to bring back home.
After spring break, schools have decided to continue school online either synchronous, or asynchronous. Online assignments and assessments were conducted throughout the remaining spring semester.
At this time, most boarding schools are giving students two to three options; either to come back on campus, engage in school activities via online classes, or do both offline and online school for domestic students due to the high rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States. On the other hand, there are few schools which have decided to close the school for the 2020 fall semester, such as Milton academy, and Emma Willard School.
How is COVID-19 actually impacting our education?
Well, obviously, students can’t be physically present in classes which is a significant disadvantage for the students.
Not being present in classes brings a lot of concerns from both parents and students. Attending classes online via Mac, creates distractions. As students who are actively engaged in usage of electronic devices, it lowers student’s concentration. It is deviated from the lesson itself, since students could easily be present in synchronous classes, but be on their mobile devices. Absence of teachers does more harm than benefit. In a class where the teachers are present, students cannot use or even have their electronic devices with them, which helps students focus during class by eliminating the distractions. Since the teachers are the authorities, students have to be present during classes, and in-person classes require students to actively participate in class discussions, clarify their misunderstandings of the concept, and even ask questions directly to the class and the teacher which would give students immediate answers. When students were present on campus, it left opportunities for visiting teachers during their open-hours, and being present on campus had made one- to -one, student - to - teacher meetings more accessible.
But, online classes are different. There are still office hours for teachers, but it makes it extremely hard for students to actually take advantage of it. Since boarding schools are diverse, students from all around the world would want to take advantage of this opportunity, which is very limited. The time zone difference, and the amount of students who are willing to meet with the teachers individually, makes it harder for students to take full advantage of this system. Of course, students could also email teachers, but this method is also limited. Obviously, teachers try their best to answer the emails as quickly as possible, but this method is less effective than asking questions to teachers directly in person. How would these difficulties be solved this following fall semester?
Low concentrations, and the frustrations that the students face definitely impacts on student’s grades directly. Because of problems and frustration that the students face, they often don’t do their assignments or go to their classes.
There is another visible problem that rose due to the pandemic. Driven from a lot of factors, higher cases of Chronic absenteeism are present. Chronic absenteeism is also one of the factors driven from COVID-19. Chronic absenteeism actually was an existing issue that most of the United States public schools have faced for years. By conducting online classes, Chronic absenteeism rose in high numbers due to lack of resources. Chronic absenteeism is visibly high in areas which lack accesses such as, wifi, or electronic devices. This also brings questions to equity for learning opportunities. It is important to address Chronic absenteeism, because it is directly related to the prediction of the dropout rates of middle/ high school students. How are students going to get an equal learning opportunity if they are not provided with the right supplies? How would this be solved this upcoming fall semester?
Going forward to the fall semester of 2020, there are still numbers of concerns and questions rising from students, parents, and the school. With no prediction to the future on the virus, the school year throughout the semester, or even this whole year, seems very unpredictable. There are still no solid plans for the future school years, we students hope to go back to school as soon as possible.
For your information, the following are some boarding schools that are reopening this fall semester; Exeter, Taft, Blair, Avon Old Farms, Ethel Walker, Miss Porters, Governors, Kent, Salisbury, NMH, Middlesex and Suffield etc...
Here are some tips for online school from Forbes.
1.You have to acknowledge that your teachers are also nervous, you are not alone.
2.Have a realistic expectations
4.Enhance your internet, and do not panic when you are disconnected from your classes or meetings
5.Always be conscious of what others can see and hear
6.Be aware to mute your audio when necessary
7.Learn how to send messages and emails for questions to teachers
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