Optional remote students share their experiences

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Junior Emily Bell poses with her dog TJ while taking a break from working on online homework.

Hunter Finerty, Editor in Chief

With the school year’s start in the middle of a global pandemic, each USD 232 family was presented with an important choice: to return to school with the hybrid schedule or opt for the optional remote learning model. 

There were many reasons for families to choose either model, with some benefits and downfalls for each. The students that advocated for optional remote learning had unique perspectives that led them to their decision. 

Senior Adam Kellogg was guided by his career goals of entering the medical field. After completing his CNA certification through the Eudora vocational program last year, Kellogg found himself in his chosen field once again as he began working at an assisted living home. 

“I had a job where I was consistently working with high-risk residents, and my original choice to pursue the optional remote model was due to that,” Kellogg said. 

Although Kellogg no longer works in the assisted living home, he will remain fully online at least until the end of the semester.

Junior Emily Bell had a different reason for choosing the optional remote model. She explained that she becomes stressed out at the idea of interacting with large groups of people in a school setting. 

“I just didn’t feel safe going back to school because COVID-19 is still a super big deal, and I was afraid people wouldn’t be taking it seriously,” Bell said. 

While each optional remote student has distinct reasons for choosing the learning model, they have also had to adjust to new perks and challenges that come with a fully online model as well.

“I often get to leave class early and that gives me extra time to do homework, sleep, eat and do my own activities,” Bell said. “I can take a nap during lunch and it’s just a more comfortable environment in general.”

Kellogg also agrees that there is much more flexibility involved in optional remote learning in comparison to past years of traditional school. 

“I have way more free time than before. I’m also saving almost $100 on gas every month,” Kellogg said. 

One consistent challenge with optional remote learning is the lack of communication and exposure to teachers and peers. 

“I know teachers are stressed and dealing with a lot so I feel like I don’t want to bother them. Life is tough for our teachers right now,” Kellogg said. 

He also explained that the connection with peers is different but still beneficial.

“Our remote AP Lit class has connected me with some Mill Valley students which is so much fun,” Kellogg said. “We’re all tired and stressed and burnt out, which is kind of a bonding experience in its own way.”

Bell feels like her interaction with close friends has not suffered, even though she doesn’t get to see them in school, but relationships with other peers are lacking. 

“I’m still interacting with my friends as much as I do during school, but it’s hard not getting the interaction from my acquaintances that I talk to at school but never outside of it,” Bell said. 

The optional remote learning model certainly has its pros and cons, but the students currently partaking in it seem to be similarly successful to their years in person. Contingent on the status of the coronavirus pandemic, the optional remote model will be an option for all families before the start of second semester.