It has been two months since the school year started—a year that has been completely digital. Already, students have started to feel burned out by taking online classes.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers should limit the amount of time they use a screen. Previously, they stated that teenagers should have only two hours of screen time per day, but the new guidelines say to limit time as much as they can and filter for good content. Yet, distance learning has compounded school work and recreational device use.
“Normally right after my last class, I just turn off my computer and don’t start doing homework ‘til later in the day,” Hector Cardenas, a junior, said. Distance learning is a five-hour period of time where students just sit down, do their work, and listen to their teachers’ lectures through zoom. They can’t see their friends during passing periods or talk to them during class. In a sense, they are isolated from other students.
This doesn’t take into account their homework and personal device use, this can lead to 10+ hours of being in front of a screen. With only 16 hours in a day if students are getting eight hours of sleep, which many aren’t, over half of the time that students are awake is spent in front of a screen.
Cardenas said, “Yes, everyone has a phone and we can text/call our friends, but it really is not the same as being there in person.” Students have been quarantined for over 200 days since March 13. They haven’t had a normal interaction with friends in a school setting for a very long time.
Additionally, they are expected to keep on with social-distancing to limit the spread of COVID for an extended period of time, meaning students have to expect a few more months of social distancing and distance learning before things go back to normal.
But not everyone views online learning the same way. Adan Barrera, a senior, said, “You get used to it, and for me personally, I’m having a better time with online school than I had being in school physically.” One of the biggest advantages of online school is new found independence. Students are expected to log onto Zoom calls and do their work—no one is holding their hand. Once they are done with work, they are able to do other things and even log out of class early if allowed.
Students, however, are not the only people who had to transition to digital learning— teachers had to make the transition as well. “I am exhausted from having to be creative in moving all the material to an online format. I 100% miss the format of being in schools,” Lisandra Navarro, a science teacher, said. Teachers miss their students. They miss the daily interactions, their classrooms, and their school.
Teachers were tasked to come up with a curriculum like no other in history—a curriculum that they were not taught to teach. Israel Bautista, a history teacher, said, “No one could have prepared to do this, so I think the best is being done under the circumstances.” That’s all that can be done. Teachers are trying their best to adapt and arguably, have been doing a reasonably good job.
Students and teachers are getting burned out from distance learning, spending all day in front of a screen with no change in scenery is draining. There is no change of pace, there are no interactions with friends, it is simply a student and his screen. A priority for students and teachers is to find a way to keep spirits high during these trying times. There isn’t an all size fits all answer, but things must change to benefit both students and teachers.
Everyone is doing their best to teach and to learn. Distance learning is the norm and will continue to be the norm until students and teachers can safely return. Bautista said, “I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for all students who have been logging in to the zooms every day, [engaging] in the nearpods/pear decks, and submitting their work consistently. MaCES students are amazing.”