With a pandemic attacking the globe, Haverford is adjusting its curricula and reorganizing the way things are done. No coats and ties to reduce the spread; temperature-checks every morning; answering questions about our health on a daily basis. All students who have decided to return this fall will have to comply.
All of this poses the question: what will happen to the students who decide to stay home? There really is no answer yet, because we are not nearly far enough in the year to see if there is a drastic difference in the learning environment. The concern is that students who stay home will fall behind because the education style is so different.
Not only is virtual learning different from in-person learning, but it is also different from the online learning that Haverford went through in the spring. As we dive headfirst into the first quarter, about 35 upper school students will stay home. These students will attend online classes, which will consist of a live stream of the in-person lessons. The teachers will have to take both online and in-person students into account and make sure everyone is learning at the same speed.
“I am fortunate enough that my parents can drive me and that I don’t have to use public transportation so that I can get to school easily,” Fourth Former Joey Kauffman said.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, there is still public transport, but it is limited as a part of Pennsylvania’s response to COVID-19. Even though transit is still up and running, buses and trains are enclosed spaces that house many people, so even with masks, some people may not feel comfortable or safe using these modes of transportation to get to school.
Kauffman went on to say that the decision to go back to school was “pretty much up to my parents.” Even though this was a decision that Kauffman agreed with, some students might not agree with their parents, which may lead to a bad learning experience.
Kauffman said, “A lot of the things that made online school harder were the technical difficulties.”
In some class periods, time was wasted due to poor connection or audio malfunctions. These problems may be just as prevalent this fall.
“I think that it will be easier for people to fall behind if they are doing virtual school, but it is possible for everyone doing virtual school to stay up to the level of in-school students,” said Kauffman.
On the other hand, Fourth Former Love McCune is not going back to school this fall saying, “I have asthma and I don’t really have the greatest past with it. When I get sick it really affects me and my daily life a lot.”
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in thirteen people in the US have asthma, upwards of 25 million Americans. It is well known that asthma is associated with shortness of breath, something COVID-19 complicates. These conditions absolutely make COVID-19 worse for people with asthma.
McCune’s decision is understandable and practical. “I think that learning in school is easier because I like to communicate with my teachers and I think that I do better in real life, being able to talk and handle the work that I have to deal with,” McCune said.
It is incredible that we are able to continue school even though we are not physically there, but communicating with people through Google Meet makes things much more difficult than in-person learning.
McCune, like Kauffman, voiced his concerns with the local transit.
“I do think that the cases will rise and we might get sent back home, only because of the commute some people have to make to get to school. Some people take the train to school so they are around people and those people are around other people,” Mccune said. “I think that people who are doing online [school] aren’t doing it to slack off, but to actually learn.”